Is music physically harmful?

Music in sports - this is how music influences your performance

Training outfit on, headphones on and off you go. Whether rock, techno or hip hop - the right music should not be missing in sports. Increase in performance and motivation booster through the right beat ?!

Why does music motivate you? It makes us smile or cry, motivates and moves us: hardly anything has such a powerful and varied effect on us as music. It has always shaped us and triggers a wide variety of emotions in us. Music is a constant companion in all areas of our life - including sports.

Numerous studies show that the right music in sport not only distracts or motivates, but also Can increase performance. We explain how this effect comes about and what is important for the right music in sport.

Music as "legal doping"

Researchers from all over the world agree: Music during sport has been shown to have an effect on physical performance. In a study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, Brazilian researchers had fifteen runners complete a five-kilometer run with and without music. The participants ran the route:

  • without music in an average of 27:20 minutes,
  • with music in an average of 26:45 minutes.

Studies in Canada and London led to similar results - but with an astonishing observation: Music has no measurable effect on lactate formation, oxygen supply or heart rate during exercise. Still, by listening to music, others could physical changes which explain an increase in performance during training.

The psychosomatic effect of music

With familiar melodies or voices, a certain sound or text, we associate a special situation from the past, a person or a feeling. When listening, the associations are evoked and a corresponding one Emotion triggered. This emotion causes an individual change in the physical condition. The changed physical effects can be:

  • The skin breathing on the body surface increases, the skin temperature and the skin moisture change.
  • The entire posture changes while listening to music.
  • The muscle tone - the state of tension in the muscles - is strengthened or loosened depending on the music.

The effect of music in sport is therefore a psychological effect to which a reaction of the neuro-vegetative system to the sound stimuli is demonstrably linked. The neurovegetative system controls body processes that are not carried out by the will, but are determined by the involuntary nervous system, such as skin breathing.

This psychosomatic effect of music can be used to increase athletic performance. Studies, with both marathon runners and novice runners, show that music affects performance in sports Increase up to 15 percent can.

Use music before exercising

Music shows its effect even before sport: Awakening positive emotions and memories puts us in a more balanced but also more concentrated state of mind. In this way, particularly calm, relaxed music helps to relieve tension and to get a grip on nervousness or restlessness before important competitions. Music supports the preparation for physical exertion both mentally and physically.

The study in the “Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research” confirms this effect: Listening to music before exercise reduces vagotonia - a state of the autonomic nervous system in which the body is more geared towards rest and relaxation. Both physical and mental alertness are increased and the athletes feel more drive and enthusiasm for the upcoming sporting exertion.

That is one reason why top athletes from all areas - such as Dirk Nowitzki, Lance Armstrong or the German national soccer team - listen to their favorite music before the competition.

Music to improve performance

Motivation booster music

If music triggers a positive emotion in us, which we associate with power and strength, it contributes to increased endorphin release during exercise and increases the desire for the upcoming training.

Further advantages during sport:

  • The motivation is maintained, tiredness and displeasure are delayed.
  • Music lifts the mood again when it worsens during exercise.
  • Towards the end of the training, music has a “heating up” effect - it helps you to endure the last kilometers, minutes or exercises and, in the best case, to accelerate again.

Music as a diversionary maneuver

During a study, training scientist Professor Alexander Ferrauti from the Ruhr-Universität Bochum found that music in sport does that physical exertion significantly reduced. This effect can be explained by the lack of acoustic feedback about the physical exhaustion.

Signals from the body, such as heavy breathing or an increased pulse, are masked by the music and are therefore perceived much less strongly, if at all. It is important for athletes not to completely ignore these signals and run the risk of overexertion.

What music in sports?

Which workout playlist is the right one? Familiar and popular songs with which you associate something positive, such as a certain person or a strong feeling such as strength, willpower or perseverance, are particularly suitable for the right music during sport.

Since we adapt our movement to the rhythm of the music in sports, is one reasonable speed important to music: music that is too slow can slow down the athlete unnecessarily, while a song that is too fast harbors the risk of exhaustion.

It is particularly suitable for swing, samba and fast pop music for endurance training, while heavy metal, rock or hip hop can be used for strength training.

The order and the interplay of calm and energetic songs also play a role. For intensive strength units or competitions, researchers recommend a ratio of 80 percent faster, “heating” music to 20 percent calm, relaxing music as a guideline. Anyone who already knows how intensively they are training and how many pace and rest phases the training includes before starting sports can use this as a guide and put together a suitable playlist in advance.

Music while jogging

Music not only helps you with strength training and the like, but is especially loved when jogging. Music can not only motivate you to run, it can help you keep your pace. It is important that the music matches your running speed. 140 beats per minute (BPM) could e.g. be too fast for a beginner. The pace could not be maintained.

If you would like to find out more about the correct running speed, take a look at our article.

Finding the right running speed

Our tip:To find the right music for sports, you can find playlists specially compiled for sports on YouTube or on music portals such as iTunes, Spotify or Deezer, which are based on speed, duration, intensity and type of sport. Apps such as runbeat or TempoRun also help with the selection and optimal combination of your favorite songs.

We asked around once in our team and collected these song pearls to burn off and heat up:

    • “Can’t be touched” by “Roy Jones”
    • "Eye of the Tiger" by "Survivor"
    • “Thunderstruck” by “AC / DC”

What is your favorite music when you exercise? Tell us in a comment which song or artist regularly brings you to your peak performance during training or post us a link to your favorite playlist. We are excited!


  • Music can increase your exercise performance by up to 15%.
  • Motivation booster through music.
  • The right workout playlist will help you get through your training.
  • Choose the right music for your workout, especially when jogging.
At foodspring, we only use high-quality sources and scientific studies that support our statements in articles. Read our editorial guidelines to learn how we check facts so that our articles are always correct, reliable and trustworthy.
  • Effects of Self-Selected Music on Strength, Explosiveness, and Mood, The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research

  • Music for jogging, Spiegel Online

  • Coupling of cardiac and locomotor rhythms, Journal of Applied Physiology

  • Rhythm distracts athletes, fit for fun interview

  • Music increases exercise endurance by 15 per cent, Dr Karageorghis - Brunel University London

  • Music in Sport and Exercise, The Sport Journal

  • Music Benefits Exercise, Studies Show, Dan Peterson - livescience