Risky fitness

Listening to a self-curated playlist during a workout can help you push further.

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Motivational music not only aids athletic abilities, but it also makes you more likely to take fitness risks, according to a new study.


Songs that inspire you may boost performance, increasing feelings of self-esteem, which helps you have faith that you can overcome any challenge, says study co-author Paul Elvers, Ph.D., postdoctoral researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics in Frankfurt, Germany. “It could also put you in a headspace where you’re more optimistic that risks will succeed rather than fail,” he explains. That’s why you might be more likely to aim for a three-pointer instead of a safer two-point shot on the basketball court (as seen in the study), try to clear the higher box during a plyo class, or leap across the widest part of the stream on a trail run.

However, if you’re having an off day, listening to your motivational tunes might just remind you how uninspired you’re feeling right then, “highlighting the discrepancy between actual and ideal self,” as Elvers puts it, and lead to a sub-par workout.

When you feel strong going into a workout, tune into a self-curated playlist, since songs you enjoy hold the most benefit, Elvers says. Otherwise, try cuing it up on your way to the gym. While there isn't any recent research proving it, Elvers says using music pre-workout will probably mend your mindset, which could then help you reap the benefits of the songs during your workout.