If you struggle to conjure up any enthusiasm to get up and get moving, music could be the answer – in fact it could help you work out harder and make the entire process more enjoyable, says Brunel University’s professor of sport and exercise psychology, Costas Karageorghis.

Writing in the journal Psychology of Sports and Exercise, Professor Karageorghis and his co-researchers describe how they monitored 24 volunteers’ heart rates during sprint interval training. When they listened to motivational music, the volunteers’ heart rates were higher than when they listened to podcasts or when they worked out without any audio. The participants also said they had more fun during their training session more when they listened to music, leading the researchers to conclude that motivational music enhances both the affect and enjoyment of sprint interval training.

It’s not the first time Professor Karageorghis has looked at the effect music has on sport and exercise – he’s carried out numerous studies on the subject and has even written a book called Applying Music in Exercise and Sport. So when he says listening to motivational music could help you enjoy exercise more, it’s a good idea to sit up and pay attention.

Professor Karageorghis also says it’s worthwhile spending time creating playlists for your workouts rather than just selecting music at random. And a good place to start is music that plays at around 120 beats per minute (bpm), then increase the tempo as you get fitter and your workouts become more intense. He recommends making new playlists every few weeks too, as listening to the same old tunes every time you work out probably won’t give you the same performance and psychological benefits as varying the tracks you listen to.

Watch out for the volume of your music too. You may get more of a buzz when your music is blasting away, but if the volume’s too loud it can lead to hearing loss in the long run. So try this. Choose your usual volume, then take off your headphones and hold them out in front of you. If you can hear the music clearly, it’s too loud.

But what is motivational music exactly? There’s no same answer for everyone – what motivates some may send others to sleep. But if you need inspiration here are the top 10 tracks inTime Out‘s 51 best workout songs:

212 (Azealia Banks)

One More Time/Aerodynamic (Daft Punk)

Shake Your Body (Down to the Ground) (Michael Jackson)

Pump up the Jam (Technotronic)

Single Ladies (Put a Ring on it) Beyoncé

Body Movin’ (Fatboy Slim remix) Beastie Boys

Push It (Salt-N-Pepa)

Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now) C+C Music Factory

Times Like These (Foo Fighters)

Hard to Explain (Strokes)


Photo by Stage 7 Photography on Unsplash