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Running / March 2021
Danielle Rines, Reebok Editorial

How Music Helps Your Runs

Music can change the way you log your miles—no matter what you listen to.

The sun is setting and you’re about to head out on your evening run. You lace up your kicks, pop in your ear buds, hit play on your phone and you’re off. It might seem like a typical routine, but have you ever considered how your beats influence your runs? For years now, researchers have tested whether music actually plays a role in how you run. Whether it’s speed or overall performance; all evidence points to yes. 
In one study, 28 college students were tested to see how music impacted their runs.  The kinesiologists’ findings showed that running while listening to music significantly enhanced performance and endurance. Running to music has also been proven to make you faster. But it’s not just music itself that makes the difference, curated jams make a difference too. There’s a reason that children listen to soothing lullabies at bedtime and why we blast pump-up music while working out. Different types of music impact how we feel, and if you take it one step further by working out in sync with the beat, research shows you’ll get a better workout. In a 2013 study, scientists found that running to motivational music with a prominent and consistent beat matched to the runner's cadence produced the best results. This helped the runners not only physically, but psychologically too. 
So, if you’re up for improving your running routine, there’s music for that. There are playlists specifically created to match your running cadence based on beats per minute (BPM), or you can create them yourself. By running to a song’s pace instead of a podcast or even an audio book, you can improve your stride. Music that triggers nostalgia or specific memories can also make you want to pick up the pace. So be prepared to get into a rhythm with your runs after we lay out how music can make them better. 


Sometimes you just want to run out the door and get it over with. But if you can put in a few extra minutes to either find or make a playlist that’s based on your BPM, you’ll be glad you did. For runner and trainer Alexandra Kosinski, putting time into music is important. “Sometimes I feel like I spend just as much time making playlists as I do writing workouts,” she says. “I like motivational lyrics to keep me going.” Like Kosinksi, a study focused on synchronous music and triathletes found that running in sync with motivational music gave positive results. The study showed that:
• Oxygen consumption was lowered by 7%
• There was a 15% increase in time to exhaustion
• You experience more positive feelings about the workout
Konsinski says music has become a central part of what keeps her going. “Music definitely impacts my runs and workouts. I never run or workout without it.” Music makes her want to power through the rough spots and finish what she started. A 2018 American College of Cardiology study on music and heart health revealed that listening to music during a cardiac stress test extended the time someone could take the test. On average, people who listened to music during the test were able to exercise for almost one minute longer than those who didn't have tunes playing in their ears. 

Your BPM 

Now that you know the pros to running with the beat, here’s how you calculate your BPM so you can pick the right music for you. The best music for running lies between 120-140 BPM that correspond with average heart rate. There are two suggested methods of finding your BPM: one can be done on your own and the other is with another person.
• Run for 15 minutes at your pace
• Count your steps for one minute
• Repeat several times to get your average
With a Friend:
• Run on a treadmill at your pace
• Set a stopwatch for 60 seconds and have your friend count how many times your right foot strikes the ground
• Take the number you get and double it
Once you have your BPM you can go all out with building your playlists, but don’t forget about finding the right sneakers to keep your pace too. If you’ve been doing everything you can to fit runs in your busy schedule, then Reebok’s Floatride Energy 3 might be the answer. The sneaker has a 360-degree reflective midsole and reflective crosscheck on the side. The shoe is meant for runners who make the time whether it’s as the sun sets or before it rises. Kosinski says while running at night can be great, you just have to be mindful when you do it with music. “I do feel safe running with music, but sometimes I’ll run with one ear bud out.” If you’re racking up the miles in the darker hours make sure the music is low enough so you can still hear around you. You want to be able to run to the beat and stay safe at the same time.

Music Matters

We can recite the words to certain songs for a reason – some music just sticks with you. And, that feeling you get when you hear it can actually improve your activity level. In 2012, a study suggested that listening to your favorite music (whether it’s death metal or classical) can improve your overall enjoyment in a workout, reduce exertion levels, and help time pass quickly. Basically, it keeps you “in the zone”. Kosinski says she typically picks music that amps her up. “On my runs I usually I listen to hip hop, upbeat and “hype-y” type music.” But she says it’s really about finding what works for you. “People have different preferences with music when it comes to working out. I think the key is to find music that you like. I think it’s like anything in life: you have to enjoy it or else you won’t keep it up.” 
While there is a science to how music can help your runs, there’s also emotional connections to music that help push you through to better results. Whether you’re running to the beat or listening to your high school hits playlist, music can boost your performance. So next time you hit the track, or the trail make sure those ear buds are fully charged.
Running / March 2021
Danielle Rines, Reebok Editorial