Listening to Music Enhances Post Workout Recovery

Music isn’t just for motivation during a workout. New research shows that music can help you clear lactic acid and recover faster AFTER your workout, too.

Apparently we all love to listen to tunes in the gym for a reason. It’s because music can improve your recovery from intense exercise. So says a new study from the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.

Ten men participated in the study. They all trained recreationally and were about 26 years old. They had their maximum sustainable running speed measured on a treadmill, and then in a series of tests I can only describe as dreadful, they were assigned to run on a treadmill at that maximal pace for six minutes.

After they finished running, the participants walked freely around the gym to think about what they had done. But instead of a leisurely stroll, researchers took all kinds of measurements from them every three minutes. Today’s study examined whether those measurements turned out differently if participants listened to music during their recovery. The music chosen was a generic mix of the greatest hits of Western music remixed into dance style at 140 beats per minute.

And things certainly did go differently under the effects of the ear buds. First, the participants simply walked a greater number of steps during recovery. Next, their blood lactate levels dropped more rapidly. Somehow their bodies cleared lactic acid more rapidly just due to music. Finally, participants reported recovery felt less demanding.

These differences are pretty amazing. However, it’s interesting to note that participants did not show any change in heart rate during recovery due to music. Everyone’s heart rate returned to normal at about the same rate.

What can we learn from this study? While we generally focus on music selection for our workout, listening to music during recovery can unleash myriad benefits. At this point the reasons behind the phenomenon are only speculation, but the effect is real. So next time you’re loading your iPod for a trip to the gym, you might want to consider creating a playlist just for recovery.


1. Michal Eliakim, et. al. “Effect of Rhythm on the Recovery From Intense Exercise.” Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research: April 2013. Vol 27. Issue 4. p1019–1024. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e318260b829

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