Motivational running songs

How music can enhance your run

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Health Advisor

20 July 2017

The benefits of listening of music and running

Music has incredible effects on the brain and is the fastest way to change your mood. Not only is it an effective tool for influencing emotional states, it can also be used to synchronise physical movement and enhance academic and sports performance.

While running is physical, it has been shown to affect the brain through releasing reward hormones such as serotonin, endorphins, and dopamine. It's not surprising that scientists have found that music has the ability to enhance running performance!

Music is processed in many different areas of the brain including the amygdala (which manages the emotional reaction to music), the cerebellum (which is involved in movement and emotional reactions), and the hippocampus (responsible for memory of music, musical experiences, and contexts).

The effects of listening to music before running

Many Olympic athletes, such as US swimmer Michael Phelps listen to music before they compete to get them motivated.

Listening to music pre-run has been shown to lead to a decrease in vagal tone,  which is responsible for regulating the resting state of the majority of body’s internal organs including the heart, lungs and eyes. The decrease in vagal tone results in a more aroused, more alert state which prepares the body before running.

The effects of listening to music during a run

Listening to music during your run can improve your speed, distance, and motivation. Louder and faster music has been shown to increase heart rate and boost speed in comparison to quieter slower music.

According to research, listening to music while running can reduce your rate of effort by 12% and increase your endurance levels by 15%.  Music can also be a useful distraction technique and improves performance by drawing your attention away from feelings of fatigue and pain while running.

Listening to music after a run

Research indicates that listening to music after running can help return the body to its pre-run state faster. Listening to slow music after running will increase the vagal tone and helps to return the heart rate to normal.

What should I listen to?

While music taste is independent and personal, it has been suggested that music with a strong bass makes people feel more powerful.  Look at the beats per minute (bpm) to determine how fast a song is and how it fits with the intensity of your workout. Songs for pre-run, warm-up, and stretching should generally range from 90-110 bpm, whereas mid-run songs should range around 110-140 bpm.
There are loads of playlists out there that are tailored to running – explore them and find songs that resonate with you. I’ve compiled a playlist of motivational running songs used by professional athletes (Stronger, Eye of the Tiger, and Eminem) as well as some of my own personal favourites to get you started. What is your favourite workout music?

Motivational Running Songs

Warming up…
Kyla La Grange – the Knife (90 bpm)
Kanye West – Stronger (109 bpm)
Survivor – Eye of the Tiger (109 bpm)

Avicii – Hey Brother (125 bpm)
Foster the People – Pumped up Kicks (128 bpm)
Infinity 2008 – Klaas Vocal Edit (128 bpm)
Sia – Move your body (128 bpm)
Imagine Dragons – Whatever it takes (135 bpm)
Eminem – Lose yourself (171 bpm)
Rudimental – Feel the love (180 bpm)
Foxes – Let go for tonight (140 bpm)

Coming down…
Kiesza – Hideaway (123 bpm)
The Him – Feels Like Home (122 bpm)
The Veronicas – In My Blood (120 bpm)
Gryffin – Heading home (118 bpm)


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