Why Music and Fitness Deliver the Best Results

Music is a commanding force that can be made use of in practically any setting. From gyms making use of pop tunes to athletes with their own MP3 players, music stimulates exercise at all levels and for all varieties of physical activity, including strength training, cardio, and stretching. Naturally, when one is motivated to do something, he or she works at it for a longer period of time in conjunction with more effort. Much like how nutritional supplements are, music serves as an ergogenic aid to exercise. There has been a rather large degree of study concerning the connection between music and the human body. An associate professor at Brunel University (in England), Costas Karageorghis, has been studying the bond between music and motivation since the 1980s. From this research, several theories have been proposed as to why listening to your favourite tunes aids in maintaining a certain level of intensity whilst exercising.

For starters, it is believed that music serves as a type of distraction that prevents the participant from listening to body signals representing fatigue. As a consequence, participants would persevere with activity much longer than they would otherwise. Further research has observed the effect of certain music’s’ tempo on psychological reactions with respect to motivation. Explicitly, strength and endurance were gauged with respect to the response to the type of music, ranging from a slow and relaxing vibe, to an upbeat and familiar tune.

The results, of course, advocated that the upbeat music had a larger, assessable impact, showing greater strength and endurance due to psychological excitement. This is at least in part due to the research of Costas Karageorghis, as his studies have shown that the brain utilises musical tempo as an indication to exercise, particularly in repetitive activities. The tempo itself serves as a technique of measuring and maintaining pace. Moreover, other studies have suggested that listening to music whilst exercising reduces the likelihood of becoming bored (especially with repetitive, monotonous, activities like running on a treadmill) via becoming immersed in your favourite tunes.

Naturally, when you’re bored, it is more likely that you’ll count the minutes until you can stop exercising. Listening to your favourite tunes circumvents this possibility. In the end, it stands to reason that listening to something that spurs some sort of emotional response, will have an impact on the body’s neurotransmitters (endorphins), therefore making the experience of exercising more enjoyable and in turn, facilitates the development of higher levels of motivation.


Blair, S.N., A.N. Dunn, B.H. Marcus, R.A. Carpenter, and P. Jaret. 2001. Active Living Every Day. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.

Buckworth, J., and R.K. Dishman. 2002. Exercise Psychology. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.

Cox, R.H. 2002. Sport Psychology: Concepts and Applications, 5th edition. Boston: McGraw-Hill.

Decik E.L., and R.M. Ryan. 1985. Intrinsic Motivation and Self-Determination in Human Behaviour. New York: Plenum Press.

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