If the thought of getting through a workout without music makes you want to cringe, you’re not alone. Millions of gym-goers, runners and swimmers rely on a beat to keep them moving or their favorite band to keep them motivated. Even athletes in busy metropolitan areas, surrounded by people and traffic, put their headphones in and tune the world out, despite the danger.
We know that music makes our workouts seem shorter, more effective and more enjoyable, but a group of researchers found evidence that music can make workouts feel less painful. In an article published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, researchers explain the significance of their findings.
Musical agency greatly decreases the perceived exertion during strenuous activity. We believe these findings are a major contribution to how we consider the role of music in the emergence of human societies.
These findings, important for society as a whole, ultimately serve as confirmation for individuals who have been jogging with Walkmans since the 80s. We were all right, Bruce Springsteen and Beyoncé are helping us get fit—it’s not just in our minds.
See also: Can Music Make You Run Faster?
In order to make the most of our music, we need a system that delivers quality sound without slowing us down. Headphones for the most active listener need to meet a long list of criteria. First and foremost, sound quality is key; the fit needs to be comfortable, yet secure and they need to be sweat resistant. Durability is another crucial factor and easy access to controls or a microphone is a great bonus feature. Aesthetics play a role, but aren't usually a deal breaker.
With that in mind, we sought out the best of the best in every price range, because even athletes on a budget should be able to reap the benefits of musical motivation.