Music Makes You Exercise Harder

In a recent study, scientists had participants ride stationary bikes while listening to music at normal speed, at 10% slower tempo and 10% higher tempo. When “the music was played faster,” researchers wrote, “the participants chose to accept, and even prefer, a greater degree of effort.” Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to my Zumba class.

Phys Ed: Does Music Make You Exercise Harder? [NYT]


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  1. pop top says:

    Put some gabber on and see how much weight you lose then.

    • Ben Popken says:

      hell yes!

      • pop top says:

        I just found out about gabber last night and I’m in love. I had heard clips before, but it was just called “techno”, which if you’re an electronic music fan, you know that isn’t very help. I was up late last night finding a ton of gabber on Youtube. My husband was less than pleased about that.

        • Ben Popken says:

          if you like gabber, also check out hardstyle. one of the dance styles that goes with hardstyle, called the melbourne shuffle, would make an excellent workout aerobic routine.

        • Egat says:


    • Stitchopoulis says:

      I can easily kick my cycling cadence up from 80-90 rpm to 120 by putting on some powerviolence. The only problem is the songs tend to be about 45 seconds long. Spazz is fantastic for interval training.

    • denros says:

      When it comes to cardio (mountain biking for me) progressive trance is the way to go, for me. I was blasting BT throughout the woods via my iphone’s speaker the other day – it was amazing.

      When it comes to weights, aggressive music is better. Metal is great. Although the best ever was lifting during a thunderstorm – nothing like pulling a massive squat to the sound of a huge clap of thunder.

  2. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    Music does nothing for me. If I don’t have anything to distract my eyes, I’ll just get bored and stop. I usually read now because getting lost in my book distracts me from watching the treadmill clock and it lets me drown out the six TVs all tuned to a news channel.

    • scoccaro says:

      ive tried to read and run and i get sea sick. I am jealous.

      • raydee wandered off on a tangent and got lost says:

        Same. I can read while in the car–not while driving of course!–but walking and trying to read or play a video game just does not work. I am unable to focus, lose my balance… I used to be able to, when I was a lot younger, but I lost the knack.

        If I did not completely tune out audio books, I would try those. I have been thinking about giving them another shot though, because usually what works for me is audiobooking while performing some mindless craft, like cross-stitch or beading.

        • pecan 3.14159265 says:

          I’m the opposite. I can read while on the treadmill, bike, etc. but reading in the car makes me sick.

    • reishka says:

      I used to walk on the treadmill and read and I loved it. I could go 45 minutes – hour and be just fine. Now that I run, though, I can’t do it. I can’t seem to keep my eyes on one line, lol. So now I get bored after 20 minutes and quit. =

    • Bremma says:

      I used to do both (listen music and watch TV as I worked out, until my iPod broke). Music alone would bore me, but together you get the benefit from music (your body trying to match the song’s tempo) and the engagement from the TV.

    • MostlyHarmless says:

      I watch movies. And you have an iPhone, don’t you?

      Netflix Streaming when working out. OMG BEST THING EVER.

      • pecan 3.14159265 says:

        I know, I have to try that soon. I downloaded the app today.

      • HogwartsProfessor says:

        I should so get a Roku box and a manual treadmill (I have my eye on one that folds up since my house is small) and then I can walk in the winter and watch stuff at the same time!

  3. Angus99 says:

    Debbie’s got a sweet hi-fi. You have to love the internet; I checked and there are copies of this LP available on Amazon – $10! Grab them before the set designer for Mad Men gets there first.

  4. Mundo says:

    While I’ve never bought my siblings’ excuse of how they can not work out at all without music, I have to admit I’ve been doing better at the gym lately as far as cardio is concerned when I have music on as well (helps that it drowns out the whiny rap/hip-hop they play over their speakers).

    That said, when I’m actually working on technique as far as boxing is concerned, I prefer to do so without music getting in the way.

    • Bremma says:

      That makes sense. The beat of music will help set a pace for something rhythmic like cardio or weights, but I could see it tripping up something that requires thought, and not just rhythm like boxing.

  5. Eat The Rich -They are fat and succulent says:

    Yes, and browsing the internet will expose you to pr0n.

  6. TommyTutone says:

    People may laugh, but my daily Dance Dance Revolution workout is helping to shed pounds and is a LOT less boring than the treadmill.

    • myCatCracksMeUp says:

      I used to use my Dance Dance Revolution all the time. I really liked it, but not too many of the songs. I had three different discs/versions, and I only liked about 1/4 of the songs on each one. That’s the main reason I eventually stopped using it. But if there was someway to have it use the songs I picked from my collection, I’d definitely use it again.

      • Cantras says:

        There’s almost certainly a way to get a pad hooked up to your computer, and then you could do stepmania — you can find, by some means, pretty much all the DDR songs for stepmania. could make a playlist on that somehow.

  7. Emerson7 says:

    I can only run and lift with music, and there’s a few songs that can make me run faster than my body can handle (at my old age).

  8. myCatCracksMeUp says:

    I can only exercise to music; otherwise it’s too boring.

    While listening to music I don’t need the TV or anything else; I just daydream.

    Mark Harmon, ummmmmmm……..

  9. trentblase says:

    In fact, playing eye of the tiger can create a time warp from which you emerge in prime fighting condition after only minutes of exercise.

    • AK47 - Now with longer screen name! says:

      I’ve always felt a good montage is the key to a successful training regimen.

      • Consumerist-Moderator-Roz says:

        “Montage” from Team America World Police is one of my favorite songs to work out to.

        Judging by my physique, though, the montage doesn’t appear to be working all that well…

  10. SuintheLu says:

    I would like to know how much funding the scientist received for this study. It’s never going to be across the board but were they really expecting a different outcome?

  11. I wumbo. You wumbo. He- she- me... wumbo. Wumbo; Wumboing; We'll have thee wumbo; Wumborama; Wumbology; the study of Wumbo. says:

    As a musician, this is a big DUH. My piano teacher never allowed me to chew gum while playing because you would play at the same tempo that you chewed.

  12. HogwartsProfessor says:

    I do this. I have the soundtrack to Black Hawk Down in my mp3 player and I play it when I walk. The track I start with begins kind of slow and then ramps up, so by the time I’m a little warmer I can speed up.

    My walk goes by faster, too.

  13. The Marionette says:

    “recent” study? I thought that was a known fact that some people exercise harder when listening to music. Regardless I love listening to music when I run, I tend to listen to more “adrenaline” rush music when I do.

  14. P_Smith says:

    Maybe that explains the pseudo-porn music of the “20 minute workout” in the 1980s. Or it was just an appropriate choice for phony TV.

    Myself, I prefer Industrial and Heavy Metal while working out. The beats-per-minute and aggression of the music keep me focused.

  15. P_Smith says:

    Another note: The results of the study are no different than the use of “rabbits” in the mile.

    Many/most significant 1500m and 1600m world records (among others) have been set by having a rabbit set the pace high for the first two or three laps.