Music as a Performance Enhancing Drug

A large body of scientific research indicates that music positively influences sports and exercise. Dr. Costas Karageorghis, a leader in sports psychology, has conducted dozens of clinical trials with a broad range of professional and amateur athletes including tennis players, long and short distance runners, basketball players, bicyclists and more.

Dr. Karageorghis’ findings show that music “distracts people from exhaustion and pain, increases endurance, boosts mood and even increases metabolic efficiency.” People who exercise while listening to music not only experience an increase in endurance by as much as 15%, but are also left happier and more satisfied by the workout. Music is particularly useful for getting through that last push or extra mile, perhaps because music redirects an exerciser’s attention from the not-so-pleasant sensations of physical exhaustion. Anyone who has ever been to a spinning class at Soul Cycle knows the value of a great song. In fact, spinning teachers are often valued as much for their playlist as they are for their enthusiasm and skill.

So what music is suited for exercise? The researchers used Queen, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Madonna in their experiments. As intuition suggests, music with more beats per minute and louder low-frequency sounds work best.

Bottom line:  Turn it on and pump it up. As an aside, out of consideration for others, may I suggest skipping “Pump Up the Jam.”


I wish you all the best,

Dr. Samantha Boardman