The effect of music on physical performance

The effect of music on physical performance

If you workout, like going to the gym or running, you probably notice that a lot of people wear earplugs or headphones while doing their workout. They kind of isolate themselves for that period of time. Lovely! At least, we get that… after a long day of work or school there is nothing better than a good workout and listening to some good music at the same time! It feels like you can empty all the thoughts in your head… 

Are you the kind of person that works out with or without music? Some people prefer to workout without any music, while others really need music during their workout. Well, we are definitely the kind of people that just can’t workout without music. We need music, especially when we are going for a run. Also, we believe that your physical performance can be improved when listening to music during your training. This can different per person of course. But what if we are right? What if listening to music during your workout can actually improve your performance and how does this work? We dug into literature to find an answer to this question. Let’s find out!

As mentioned before, we think that music can really help you with for example running. Your thoughts fade away while running and you don’t think about your legs that are getting tired. Next to this, it always feels good that you can run on the rhythm of the music. Makes you feel like you can run faster, doesn’t it? 

Well, recent studies prove that when you listen to music while exercising, the duration of the exercise can be increased! This is interesting… right? But how does this actually work? Well, music leads to positive effects on your mindset and the perception of how you actually feel in that moment can kind of fade away, leading you to forget about your fatigue feeling. Isn’t that great? This effect is tending to be higher when listening to fast music, compared to listening to slow music. Unfortunately, the rhythm of the music doesn’t have any effect on your performance and it doesn’t necessarily lead to longer or faster running performance. But even though this is not proved, it does feel good! 

Then we were curious about another thing, how would this work with the volume of music? Do you think this would also affect your performance? A study shows an observed effect when running on a treadmill (the machine at the gym for running), that when the music gets louder this can increase the speed that you run. These observed effects were not highly remarkale. 

So for now, let’s just stick with the fact that music can increase the duration of your workout! Now you know what to do when you are getting tired during a workout… 


Anna & Marit


  • Thakare AE, Mehrotra R, Singh A. Effect of music tempo on exercise performance and heart rate among young adults. Int J Physiol Pathophysiol Pharmacol. 2017;9(2):35–39. Published 2017 Apr15.
  • Thakur AM, Yardi SS. Effect of different types of music on exercise performance in normal individuals. Indian J Physiol Pharmacol. 2013;57(4):448-51.
  • Judy Edworthy & Hannah Waring (2006) The effects of music tempo and loudness level on treadmill exercise, Ergonomics, 49:15, 1597-1610
  • Maddigan ME, Sullivan KM, Halperin I, Basset FA, Behm DG. High tempo music prolongs high intensity exercise. PeerJ. 2019;6:e6164. Published 2019 Jan 8. 

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