Those of you who workout at DUFF know how much we love our music.  Our action-packed group fitness classes wouldn’t be the same without the adrenaline rush that comes with a steady beat and thumping bass.  While the genre of music may change depending on popular demand (80’s anyone?), you can be guaranteed that something is playing, and it’s usually LOUD!

So why is music so important to those of us who lift weights, hit the rowing machine, run sprints, etc?  We did a little research to find out.


According to Scientific American, the benefits of rocking out to your favorite tunes while working out run the gamut: “Music distracts people from pain and fatigue, elevates mood, increases endurance, reduces perceived effort and may even promote metabolic efficiency. When listening to music, people run farther, bike longer and swim faster than usual—often without realizing it.”


Scientific American goes on to explain, “After a certain period of exercise…physical fatigue begins to set in. The body recognizes signs of extreme exertion—rising levels of lactate in the muscles, a thrumming heart, increased sweat production—and decides it needs a break. Music competes with this physiological feedback for the brain’s conscious attention. Similarly, music often changes people’s perception of their own effort throughout a workout: it seems easier to run those 10 miles or complete a few extra biceps curls when Beyoncé or Eminem is right there with you.”


Beyond making working out more pleasant, listening to music appears to help encourage regular exercise.  In fact, The New York Times suggests that listening to music increases the chances that participants will be willing to workout again—even if that workout is difficult.  In a study conducted in Canada, a group of volunteers was given a grueling workout consisting of several rounds of extreme high interval training with only a few minutes between each round to rest.  After the workout, volunteers were questioned about their workouts and whether they would be willing to repeat the exercise again.  It turns out that those who listened to music were willing to try the workout again AND that many of them actually enjoyed the exercise. 

According to the NYT, “The results indicate that high-intensity interval training may not be as physically disagreeable and off-putting for many of us as some experts have feared…and that adding music to the sweating seems to make the workouts even more enjoyable. (The researchers had used the same data in an earlier study that looked at whether music made people ride harder. It did.)”  So on top of making exercise more palatable (and even fun), the study indicated that music actually increased exercise performance.

In fact, The Health Sciences Academy sites a study from Brunel University (a world-leading research hub on music for athleticism in the U.K.) that states that listening to music while working out can improve your endurance by 15%.  “It’s been shown that listening to music during exercise increases the efficiency of that activity and it postpones fatigue. This especially holds true if there is a synchrony between the rhythm of the music and the movements of the athlete themselves. In terms of muscle strength, music that is perceived to be motivating can lead to bursts of intensity. This increases your work capacity and can bring about ultra-high levels of explosive power, strength, and productivity.”


We know you’re set here at the gym, but what about when you’re working out on your own around Charleston and Mount Pleasant?  Health Magazine has some recommendations: “To pick the ultimate iPod playlist, think about what gets you going. ‘I know several elite athletes that listen to what we’d consider ‘relaxing’ music, such as symphony music, while they do a hard workout,’ says Andrew Kastor. So don’t feel like you have to download Lady Gaga because her tunes are supposed to pump you up—go with any music that you find up-lifting.”


To get you started, we did a little research and have some links to some of the most popular fitness playlists out there.  Click on each underlined link to go to each playlist. 

  1. Fitness Magazine: Top 100 Workout Songs (Music fueled by hard-hitters like AC/DC, Beastie Boys, Aerosmith, Beck, Queen, Missy Elliot, Fergie, etc)
  2. PopSugar Fitness: 100 Ultimate Cardio Tunes (Poptastic tunes by Ellie Goulding, Flo Rida, Jay Z, Rihanna, etc)
  3. Muscle and Fitness: Get Pumped Your Top 25 Workout Songs (Testosterone-infused groups like Limp Bizkit, Metallica, Five Finger Death Punch, etc)
  4. Time Out Magazine: The 50 Best Workout Songs (Old school classics like Michael Jackson, Technotronic, The Beastie Boys, Salt-n-Pepa, etc)
  5. Billboard Magazine: The Beat that Moves Your Feet (Note that there are several different playlist options here including running, yoga, the gym, weightlifting, etc.  The general mix includes Bruno Marz, Maroon 5, The Weekend, Meghan Trainor, etc.)

And since free is always fun, check out Shape Magazine’s monthly Free Workout Playlist by clicking HERE.