Music fuels workouts. It pumps you up and gets you in the "zone" so you can keep the rhythm, stay energized, and boost your performance.
"Music is like a legal drug for athletes," says Dr. Costas Karageorghis, author of Inside Sport Psychology.
Karageorphis did an in-depth look at how music impacts athletes and found that music distracts, creates emotion, causes arousal, and gets people to move to tempo. Here's a breakdown:
• Distract: Music helps take the mind off of the physical activity. • Creates Emotion: A song from your childhood may boost energy because it was something you always listened to while playing in the backyard. Or, a song that played from your first rock concert may boost your spirits. There's a human connection to music that causes an emotional touch. • Causes Arousal: The tendency to move instead of sit. If you hear a song in the background, you might notice your knee bouncing to the rhythm. That's your body wanting to move to the beat. • People Move to Tempo: Take cyclists as an example. To pick up the pedal speed they listen to a fast-paced tempo to help them lift their pedals quickly and in a steady rhythm.
To perform your best while listening to music, a good set of earbuds is a must. Headphones come in so many shapes, sizes, wires, no wires, etc. And prices can range from $15 to $300 or more. It can be a big task to find the right pair for you.
To narrow your search, the Active Gear Scout tested all sorts of noise-canceling headphones. These pieces were put through: marathons, swim sessions, interval strength-trainings, 25-mile bike rides and rigorous stair climbs. Some performed better than others, but overall offer great sound and no-fuss earbuds. Find one that's right for you to help you get in the zone and perform your best.
Yurbuds: Inspire Series ($30 to $60)1 of 10
If you want wireless technology, top-notch sound, form fitting earbuds and a mic, the Inspire by Yurbuds offers all four. The Inspire line consists of the following options: Inspire, Inspire Talk, Inspire Duro, Inspire Pro, Inspire for Women, Inspire Talk for Women, Inspire Pro for Women. The earbud for the women's line is designed smaller to fit the active woman's ear. The Twistlock feature allows the earbud to stay in place for any workout—it really works. It's soft and comfortable, so the cushion won't bother your ear. Great for triathletes, it's water-resistant and stays put through transitions and each leg.
JayBird: Bluebuds X ($170)2 of 10
Workout to your favorite jams without fussing with wires. The Bluebuds X Bluetooth Headphone offers top sounds quality in this light, wireless headset. Control your music and answer calls with the microphone/remote. Customize the fit to your liking with the X-Fit over- or under-ear fit option. The Bluebuds X offers three cushions for you ear buds to help get a secure fit. Although this device is supposed to stay put, if you're in-between sizes, the buds may fall out once in a while. The battery is rechargeable and lasts eight hours. This is great for gym rats and for those who hate wearing armbands or dealing with wires. The Bluebuds X are OK for runners, after about 7 to 8 miles the earbuds start to loosen and you may start fussing with them. Note: The initial set up takes a few minutes. If you have trouble, contact the customer service. The online live help is extremely helpful to guide your way to proper set up.
Monster: iSport Series ($70 to $250)3 of 10
For a good sound at a good value, the iSport Strive delivers clear audio and secure fitting. You'll still hear surrounding sounds, but you get Pure Monster Sound?. Best for workouts, the buds tend to fall out during long runs. The iSport Intensity blocks outside sound, offers good sound quality, and stays put. The iSport Victory delivers great bass and rhythm to help you run or train harder. The noise-isolating ear tips stay put and fit great under a helmet for long bike rides. The iSport Freedom gives you the freedom to move with out dealing with wires. This wireless headset offers great sound, Bluetooth and noise reduction. The iSport series offers great technology, but if you don't want to spend $200 plus on headphones, consider the iSport Intensity. It's $99 and offers many of the same features as the Victory and Freedom. You can control your music from the remote and answer calls. The noise reduction is OK, better than the Strive headphones. Sound quality is great.
Skullcandy: Chops ($20 to $50)4 of 10
If you're looking for an affordable headphone with good audio, then the Chops are for you. The wrap-around feature keeps the earbud in place, which is great for interval training, biking or running. You can buy with a mic or without, just depends if you want to control your music and answer calls or not. Blocks sound decently. The lifespan of these lasts for about 6 to 12 months, then you may need to purchase a new pair. But, if you're on a budget and want a good quality headphone, then these will do.
Bose: SIE2i Sport Headphones ($120 to $150)5 of 10
These sweat- and weather-resistant headphones are specifically designed for exercises. The SIE2i provides excellent sound, blocks outside noise, and fits securely in place. Never miss a call and control your music with the inline mic and remote feature. Or choose the headset without the inline mic for $120. Both options come with the Reebok? fitness armband. You might have to shell out a lot of cash for the SIE2i, but the headset lasts a long time.
Koss: Fit Series ($30)6 of 10
Two styles of headphones are designed for women by women: FitClips and FitBuds . The FitClip wraps around the ear for an incredible stay-put headphone. The FitBud goes in the ear. Since women's ears are smaller than men's, the earbuds are 33 percent smaller than your standard earbud, which is why these are such great options for active women. Both come in a handful of colors, and are reasonably priced and sweat-resistant.
Skullcandy: Smokin Buds 2 ($30)7 of 10
Plug these into your mp3 player or phone and set out for a run or workout. For $30 you can't go wrong. The Smokin Buds 2 offers great sound, comfort and moisture-resistant materials. Manage your device with the inline mic. Many in-ear headphones tend to fall out after 30 minutes or once you start to sweat. Not these. The Smokin Buds 2 actually stays put and doesn't leak too much sound. Good for interval training or moderate runs. Great bang for your buck.
Sony: Black 4GB Walkman Sports MP3 Player ($100)8 of 10
No wires means no worries. This waterproof headset allows you to go 6-feet deep. When fully charged, you can listen to music for eight hours, or use the quick charge to power up fast, 60-minutes of music time. Drag and drop your favorite songs to keep your workout going. Swimmers love these because they are comfortable, easy to use, and actually work well in the water.
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