Monday, August 1, 2011

Running With Music: Good or Bad?

Listening to music while running, exercising, biking, or whatever physical activity you do has been something that has been debated for years. Does it just come down to personal preference, or is there actual science behind this debate?
A recent study done at the Research Institute for Sport and Exercise had 12 subjects ride a stationary bicycle at a pace that they could sustain for 30 minutes while listening to a song of the subject's choice. In successive trials, they rode the bikes again, with the tempo of the music variously increased or decreased by 10%, without the subject's knowledge. The researchers found that the riders heart rate and mileage decreased when the tempo was slowed, while they rode a greater distance, increased their heart rate and enjoyed the music more at the faster tempo. (Hudson, 2010).
However, A 2004 found that runners performing at a pace where they were at 90% of their peak oxygen uptake enjoyed listening to music, but that the music had no effect on their heart rate or running pace, regardless of the music's tempo. (Tennebaum, 2010).
Here is a video that I found on the effects of music on athletes from BBC News

Dr. Karageorghis is a professor at Brunel Univeristy who organized a series of tests to study the effects of different kinds of music on athletes and runners. According to Dr. Karageorghis there are 4 different factors of music that effects athletic performance. These four things are:
  1. Rythmic Response: Your bodies response to the beat of a song
  2. Musicality: combinations of cords and instruments that effect our moods while listening to a certain song.
  3. Cultural Impact: Your personal response to a certain song based on social upbringing.
  4. Association Factor: How we relate to a certain song based on past experiences and life associations.
According to this, the science is behind choosing the right song for you that meets all of the 4 criteria for the perfect song to get you pumped up. So a song that you may love to run to, another person may not get anything at all from it.
Some runners find that listening to music motivates them to get up and go, while others value quiet while running so that they are more in tune with their bodies.
Really when it comes down to it, staying "plugged in" while running is a personal choice. I personally think that it is best to experiment with both "natural" running, and running with devices such as watches, ipods, etc.
There is definitely something to be said for just getting out there and having nothing else between you and the road. But something a little upbeat music can get you out the door and going, and there is nothing wrong with that!
Now that you have heard all the boring scincetific facts, I am going to bless you with some of my favorite songs to run to. Please don't judge :) And remember, according to good ol Dr. Karageorghis every song has different effects on different people!
Some of my ALL TIME FAVORITE SONGS include:
  • The Blackeyed Peas - Just Can't Get Enough
  • Pussycat Dolls - Don't Cha
  • Nicki Minaj - Super Bass
  • Jennifer Lopez - I'm Into You
  • Shakira - Did it Again
  • Wiz Khalifa - Mezmorized
  • Kayne West - Im Your Pusha
  • Destiny's Child - Solider
  • Glee Soundtrack - Open Your Heart/Boderline
  • Paramore - Feeling Sorry
  • Eminem and Lil Wayne - No Love
  • The whole Girl Talk Album
  • Maria Carey - Side Effects and Cruise Control
  • Outkast - The Way You Move
All pretty random huh?! I change it up depending on my mood so my music changes alot. This is just a small sample of what gets my butt in gear during runs!
So what do you think, music or no music?
What are some of your go-to "pump up" songs?


  1. This sounds totally lame but I got a bunch of CD's from my old high school cheer coach... they are the kind that mixes a bunch of fast/upbeat songs together with all sorts of sound effects sporadically placed throughout the songs. Those get me going on my speed work runs.:)

  2. Ah... I absolutly feel like I will die if I don't have music to listen to. Once my ipod earbuds broke mid run I almost cried and had to finish up sooner than I had planned because I "just couldn't do it" I love your music choices they reflect mine Butttt my all time Favorite is Techno. Nothing makes my ass run faster than techno. The only thing that would make it better is if I could run holding glow sticks but that might get me a few stares... haha

  3. I think it's no surprise that the crazy Zumba girl NEED's music to run or workout to! No music makes Suzi a sad girl.

    My two fav running "pump my up" tunes are
    1) Family Affair - Mary J Blige (put you need to use tempo magic to speed the tempo up slightly or it's a little slow)
    2) In Da Club - 50 Cent - my 100% fav running tune! :D

  4. For morning runs, I don't run with music, it's a nice way to start off the day, just you and the pavement with the sun coming up :-) But my night runs, I always run with music, typically hip hop or angry alternative, must have beats! lol

  5. I always have to run with music, it just motivates me so much more. My fav running songs are anything by Lincoln Park, Nickleback, Beyonce, and me too Black Eyed Peas. I could probably run to anything though.

  6. So this sounds like a mixed review of if running to music is good or not, the sources are conflicted.

    I like running with a book on tape, I actually feel like that's when I'm fastest, but maybe that's just when the time flies by the most.

  7. I used to run with music all the time and felt I couldn't run without it but I have been running without it since training for my duathlons. Since you cannot listen to music during them it didn't make sense to train with it :) I have been loving it!!