Runplugging: Ditch the Music While Exercising


Nearly every person you see exercising at a sports club has headphones in. According to cognitive neuroscientist, Daniel Levitin, listening to music actually makes you less productive during your workout! It plays a trick on your mind; it makes you believe that you are more productive because you are having more fun. In a variety of aspects, from thinking, reading, or writing, your performance is considerably lower while you are listening to music. Levitin suggests listening to music 10 to 15 minutes before you start exercising.

I am also guilty of wearing my Beats by Dr. Dre, blasting upbeat music to get me through a workout. I felt like I actually needed it. We listen to music while exercising, and especially while running, to dissociate from what is going on. Some songs and podcasts may seem like good motivators, but it actually distracts us from the crucial things that are happening in our mind and body. When we exercise with our power jams blasting in our ears, we often ignore that fact that we are out of breath because we are running too fast on what should be a moderate-intensity workout. Wearing headphones and listening to music also disrupts your form and footing. When we are running, we are usually dripping in sweat. By the end of our run, we focus more to make sure our ear buds stay in, or the cord isn’t tangled around any body parts.  We lose focus on the importance of proper running form.

These days, we are attached to our cell phones like glue. We constantly check emails, and text messages, and we are too busy scrolling through our music library to find the perfect song for in the moment. We also hold onto our phones for dear life so they do not drop on the ground and shatter. When running, your upper body should be relaxed, and your hands should be loose, like you are holding an egg. When we have a death grip around our phone, the tension travels up through your arm, and into your neck, contributing to upper body stiffness.

If you are up for the challenge, try to ditch the music. You’ll find that you are not pushing yourself to exertion when a power jam comes on. You will find that you can actually maintain a steady pace, and focus on your breathing and heart rate. Unplugging may also lead to a greater sense of accomplishment. You will start to find that running is actually easier because you are more in tune with your body.