In a 2012 review of the research, Costas Karageorghis of Brunel University in London, one of the world’s leading experts on the psychology of exercise music, wrote that one could think of music as “a type of legal performance-enhancing drug.”

Music can exert a positive effect on physical activity. A meta analysis of 139 studies quantified results of 3,599 participants who engaged in exercise and sports activities while listening to music. The overall positive effects of listening to music was reported to enhance affective responses, physical performance, perceived exertion, and oxygen utilization.

Music types used:

  • Fast and loud with Hip Hop, Rock and Pop styles
  • Synchronicity (adjustments in music elements and styles to match activity) for stronger performance effect
Potential benefits of doing so were calculated based on performance outcomes and psychological, physiological and psychophysical responses of the participants.
  • Physiological responses were assessed by heart rate and oxygen consumption.
  • Psychophysical responses were assessed by perceived exertion.
Listening to music either before or during physical activity had an overall positive effect on physical performance, perceived exertion, and oxygen utilization. No benefits on heart rate were found. Beneficial effects on physical performance were greater in the exercise domain than in the sports domain. Listening to music which had a faster tempo showed a stronger performance benefit than slow to medium tempo music. Hip Hop, Rock and Pop music had the desired 145 beats per minute or more which is where motivation peaks. Fast tempo music played at a higher volume was shown to increase the ergogenic effects of exercise. Music was also found to be most effective when played during periods of low to moderate intensity.
Additionally, music synchronized to movement patterns showed potential benefit because the synchronous use of music yielded stronger effect for performance.
Research supports music listening for exercise and sport. It is reasonable to conclude that music has the potential to provide
positive effects for exercise and athletes in areas of enhanced affective responses, reduced perceived exertion, more efficient oxygen utilization and physical performance.
This increased awareness of the chemical effects of music can support decisions to apply music prescriptively with strategic implementation of music, dependent upon individuation of activity, health parameters, goals, preferred music, and adding Mood Sequence Formulas from Music4Life’s Music Medicine Protocol.

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Here more tips to consider in this related article “Tips to Get the Most Out of Your Workout Sessions” at



Today’s article was written by our Guest Blogger:

Judith Pinkerton, LPMT, MT-BC

Licensed board-certified music therapist

Founder/CEO, Music 4 Life® Inc.