Music to My Muscles: The Pros and Cons of Running with Music

When it comes to running with music, some insist they can't take a step without it, while others find it distracting.

Researchers are just as captivated by the topic. Countless studies have been conducted to determine whether music provides an advantage on the run. While it's still debatable whether or not it's best to run with music, the latest research has revealed some pros and cons of the practice.

One recent study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research looked at the effect of music on 5K running times. They tested several conditions that included playing slow and fast motivational music before and during the time trial, as well as calming music afterwards.

They discovered that when the runners listened to music of 110 to 150 beats per minute prior to the 5K run, they tended to run the first two laps of the time trial faster than they did without music. They also found that when runners listened to both fast and slow motivational music during the time trial, they were on average a little more than 30 seconds faster than when they ran with no music. Interestingly, they also identified benefits to listening to slower music of 95 to 110 beats per minute after running, as the runners' heart rates returned to normal more quickly than they did without music.

Other research has helped further identify what type of music may be most effective for runners. For example, one study showed that matching the music's beat to running cadence can help optimize running economy. Another study demonstrated that in 10-minute treadmill tests, the volume and tempo of the music boosted participants' speed and heart rates. Indeed, the right kind of music can serve as motivation for certain runners.

More: What Kenyans Can Teach Us About Running Economy and Efficiency

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About the Author

Mackenzie Lobby Havey

Mackenzie Lobby Havey is a Minneapolis-based freelance writer and photographer with a Master's in Kinesiology from the University of Minnesota. She has run 10 marathons and is a USATF certified coach. When she's not writing, she's out swimming, biking, and running the Minneapolis Chain of Lakes. Check out her website at mackenzielobby.com.

Mackenzie Lobby Havey is a Minneapolis-based freelance writer and photographer with a Master's in Kinesiology from the University of Minnesota. She has run 10 marathons and is a USATF certified coach. When she's not writing, she's out swimming, biking, and running the Minneapolis Chain of Lakes. Check out her website at mackenzielobby.com.

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