Horizontal view of dark skinned woman in good mood, raises arm with muscles, has strong body, dressed in gym outfit, listens audio via modern headphones, poses indoor. Fitness and music concept

A woman showing her muscles, wearing headphones (© Wayhome Studio - stock.adobe.com)

NEW YORK — Which tune in your playlist is the one which gets the blood going when it’s time to work out? A new survey finds Queen’s “We Will Rock You,” “Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor and Guns n’ Roses’ “Welcome to the Jungle” top the charts as the best workout songs of all time.

The OnePoll survey of 2,000 Americans who exercise regularly identified the top 50 songs that respondents use as the soundtrack to their workouts. Hip-hop (14%), pop (10%), and a “little bit of everything” (10%) topped respondents’ favorite genres to turn on during an exercise. Sixty-five percent of respondents add they’d have “no motivation” to exercise without their workout music of choice.

Best Workout Songs
(Credit: SWNS)

Commissioned by RockMyRun, the survey examined the role that music plays in motivation to exercise. The survey also asked the respondents a curious hypothetical: If they could only workout to the music of one artist for the rest of their lives, who would it be?

And the winner is…

The only clear answer here was that was no clear winner. Respondents named a variety of acts from across the musical world, including ABBA, AC/DC, Billy Idol, The Black-Eyed Peas, Britney Spears, DJ Khaled, Eminem, Icona Pop, Justin Bieber, Michael Jackson, Queen, Rick Ross, Rihanna, The Rolling Stones, and Taylor Swift.

Perhaps the biggest compliment someone can pay an artist is by engaging in a little workout karaoke. Many respondents were able to name a song that they couldn’t resist singing along to while workout out, even if they were out of breath.

Americans varied widely not only in terms of the workout music taste, but also in terms of how they prefer to play their music while exercising. Just seven percent of respondents select their own songs while they’re working out, while 39 percent prefer to listen to a premade playlist created specifically for working out.

How music helps motivate us to exercise

So what is it about music that makes exercising less of a chore for many people? The top reasons from the poll include “to boost my mood” (32%), “to help me focus” or get in “the zone” (31%), and as a distraction from the physical exertion (19%).

The feelings music delivers while working out varied among respondents, but the most common ones include feeling active, energetic, motivated, and focused. By contrast, the most common feelings reported when working out without music include feeling bored, tired, and lazy.

Best Workout Songs
(Credit: SWNS)

The right playlist can produce more than just motivation when it comes to exercising, as two in three Americans (68%) reported an increase in performance due to listening to music while working out.

Ads can be a workout buzzkill

Ads however, can be a mood killer. Nearly seven in 10 people (69%) say that ads interrupting their workout music kills their momentum. Moreover, more than seven in 10 respondents say that when it comes to cardio, faster music motivates them more than slower music – a finding that Katie Addison, RockMyRun’s Chief Operating Officer, says is consistent with findings from users of the app.

“We often say that music ‘moves us,’ but when it comes to workout playlists, that influence can be quite literal,” Addison explains. “Music not only sets the tone for the workout, but according to our user data, it can actually set the pace for runners – with the speed for 65% of our users increasing with the BPM of their music.”

It seems that the right workout music also has the ability to transport listeners in a figurative sense too. Forty-six percent of respondents reported having once gotten so caught up in their workout music that they didn’t realize they had finished their routine. The absence of the right tunes can also have an impact, as 65 percent agree that their workout performance is worse when they don’t have access to their workout music of choice.

“When it comes to keeping yourself musically motivated for a workout, personalization is key, but the effort required to create that ‘perfect workout playlist’ can take away from precious exercise time,” Addison says. “Luckily, choice algorithms and AI can help with that, adding new tunes to your mix based on the ones you already love to help your workout fly by.”

About Chris Melore

Chris Melore has been a writer, researcher, editor, and producer in the New York-area since 2006. He won a local Emmy award for his work in sports television in 2011.

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