Why Upbeat Music Is the Secret to a Better Workout Session

Do you feel like you just can’t get through another treadmill session? You’re not alone. That’s why scientists have been researching how music affects physical activity and exercising for years. A recent study found that there is a way to vastly improve your workout by choosing the right playlist.

man with headphones on a gym workout, woman in the background
Why Upbeat Music Is the Secret to a Better Workout Session

It’s a Matter of Tempo

Have you ever had that feeling of listening to an upbeat song on your headphones while walking on the street, imagining you’re really swag and cool? Maybe you even pick up your pace a little bit as a result? It turns out that upbeat songs can do something similar when you’re working out. Associate professor Andrea De Giorgio, at the eCampus University in Italy, discovered that listening to faster tempo music can get your heart rate up by decreasing the amount of your perceived effort all at the same time.

She recommends choosing tunes between 170 and 190 beats per minute (bpm) since those tracks can have the highest positive impact on your workout.

The Workout Experiment

woman with headphones on jumping on the street
Why Upbeat Music Is the Secret to a Better Workout Session

To find the optimal bpm numbers, professor De Giorgio carried out an experiment where some people would work out in silence, while others would work out while listening to slow, medium, or fast-paced tunes. They discovered that the faster the beat, the easier people’s workouts felt. This is a significant discovery since extensive research has shown that the number one reason why people don’t workout is a mental barrier, not a physical one.

Rhythmic patterns encourage movement, and this creates a feedback loop. De Giorgio says that certain music can induce these physio-psychological responses to improve exercise performance and a person’s mood. So, next time you decide to hit the gym or go for a run, cue “Follow God” by Kanye West (180 bpm), “Arabesque” by Coldplay (172 bpm), or “Go Off” by M.I.A. (170 bpm).