It’s the last second to the last mile of a long training run. The legs are aching, the lungs are burning…it’s basically miserable. Then, all of a sudden, THE song comes on the running playlist. The song that encourages you to push harder, the one where the beat makes feet move a little bit faster—the song that tells the runner “You ARE strong enough. You CAN finish this. You WILL finish this.”

People are finding more and more ways to keep fit—be it by running, cycling, lifting weights, taking dance classes or through a combination of the above. For most of these exercisers, music is not an option—it is a necessity. And they have nearly ALL had music provide the exercise experience mentioned earlier at some point or another.

It used to be that listening to music while on the run (literally) was viewed as just a way to pass the time until the miles were over. While that may be true, studies are showing music plays an even more important role in staying fit. Not only has music been shown to provide a more satisfying workout, it can also improve performance.

A recent study out of the UK found that music can distract from the usual mid-workout pain and that, beyond listening, controlling music to match a workout pace can have an extreme and positive impact on perceived effort during exercise. So, let’s narrow it down. Here are a few reasons to sweat to the beat:

Tempo, Speed, and Rhythm

As previously discussed in this blog, tempo (or the speed) of music can have a dramatic impact on the movement of customers in a particular business. As expected, that carries over to exercisers. Tempo, along with rhythm, are the most important qualities when it comes to workout music.

Most people have a natural way of syncing their body with music—whether swaying their hips or tapping their feet, music can make people move. While the type of music that inspires these responses can be different, a strong beat with a fast tempo are most likely to make the body move. For example, it may be R&B or upbeat jazz or even electronic—as long as the music is fast, people move. A survey of college students found the most popular types of exercise music are hip-hop (27.7%), rock (24%) and pop (20.3%). Music in these styles tend to be comprised of fast songs with strong beats, and they’re filling up the gym playlists.


Listening to music while working out can be just the thing to distract exercisers from their exertion levels. By listening to upbeat and high tempo music, not only do exercisers get the benefits mentioned above, but it gives the mind something else to think about—different information to process besides burning lungs. And, not only does music work to take the mind off the physical movement, but it can actually serve to improve athletic performance and endurance by up to 15%.

Mood Music

Most regular gym goers will say the only “bad” workout is the one that doesn’t happen. And, for the most part, that’s true. However, music allows us an escape from negative thoughts and feelings. A 2013 study found that people often listen to music as a way to change their mood and find self-awareness. In the case of working out, turning up some great music only adds to the mood-elevating endorphins exercise is already giving. It’s a one-two mood enhancing punch.

At the end of the day, for gym owners, having a playlist that is carefully curated to hit several songs with fast tempos and strong beats can distract gym-goers from minor workout pain, making them work harder, faster and more efficiently. A change as minor as having a good workout playlist can keep a member pressing on to better achieve their fitness goals—and keep them coming back. It can also serve as a way to keep gym members informed about events or upcoming special offers through custom audio announcements.

It may not seem like music is a critical factor in the gym experience, but the right song at the right time can mean the difference in a workout that leaves a member sweaty and smiling and one that just leaves them…sweaty.

Interested in learning more? Request a demo of Vibenomics today and learn how you can start creating on-brand music and messaging for your in-store customers.