Music and Exercise Motivation

If you feel like you can’t get a good cardio session in without music, you’re not alone.  There is perfectly good scientific reasoning that shows that music does help you during a workout and boost motivation.

Workout Music via Runners World

Why Workout with Music?

Music helps with motivation – but that’s largely dependent on the type of music you listen to. To start, music that is energetic, rhythmic, and has a strong beat will motivate one to keep up the pace of a higher intensity exercise. A study taking individuals doing a bike test found that when individuals listened to motivational music, they performed better. Listening to music is a enjoyable experience, and can make exercise seem less mundane and act as a distraction.

Faster music is correlated with more energy! The speed at music plays at is called beats per minute, or “bpm”. In general, music between 120 – 160bpm is a good speed. Pick something with a strong beat and fast paced to keep you going when fatigue sets in. If you’re unsure what “bpm” your music is playing at, look it up on this song BPM search engine. If you don’t work out with music right now, give it a try and see how it goes!

Of course, slower music can do the opposite as well – it can relax you. Spas and yoga classes play slow music to promote relaxation and help to regulate breathing. For the purposes of the workout we want to feel “pumped” – so we play faster music. If you find modern day pop music not to your taste, fast, energetic classical music can work just as well. One of the best things about classical music is there are slower sections, which you can use for recovery. When the speed of the music picks up, you can bump up the intensity. This is also known as Fartlek training, which is more free-flowing than running at speed 10.0 on the treadmill for 30 min straight.

Our Picks:

Livin’ On A Prayer – Bon Jovi – 122bpm

Hit Me With Your Best Shot – Pat Betenar – 127bpm

Beat It – Michael Jackson – 139bpm

Love Shack – B-52’s – 134bpm

Eine Kleine Nachtmusik – Mozart – 147 bpm

The Planets, Op. 32: I. Mars, the Bringer of War – Holst – 133bpm

Symphony No. 3, 3rd Movement – Beethovan – 120bpm

Whats your workout playlist? Let us know in the comments below!


Barrett, S. L. (2015). The influence of exercise type and motivation on music preference (Order No. 1591464). Available from ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global. (1696781088). 

Brooks, K., & Brooks, K. (2010). Difference in wingate power output in response to music as motivation. Journal of Exercise Physiology Online, 13(6),14.

Jabr, F. (2013). Lets Get Physical: The Psychology of Effective Workout Music. Scientific American. Retreived from

Blog post written by James Hsin – Client Care Manager


James is currently going into his 4th year at kinesiology at UBC, and grew up a relatively active individual. He has been training primarily in Muay Thai for the past 4 years, training with champions and beginners alike. James is a firm believer that exercise should be like playing around – it’s better if its fun! James hopes he can share how his fitness journey has encouraged him to grow, and hopes to inspire you to do the same.


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