Podcasts vs. Music While Exercising

If there’s one hobby I’ve reignited during the pandemic, it’s mountain biking. It’s safe to say that I’ve spent more time on the Wolf River Trails in Memphis in the past 7 months than I have in the past 23 years combined.

One of the reasons I’ve loved biking so much (especially while we’ve all been stuck inside) is because it gives me a chance to get outside and catch up on podcasts or audiobooks for an extended period of time. It’s a time for me to zone into interesting content while I’m also getting a good workout in.

Don’t get me wrong – I’ll also listen to music about 20% of the time. Other times I might listen to nothing or ride with other people.

But most of the time (I’d say 80%), I’m listening to either podcasts or audiobooks. I think you can make the case for listening to either podcasts or music based on your preferences. For the sake of this article, I’ll focus on the pros and cons of podcasts.

Why I love Podcasts while Exercising

Pros

If you’ve read any of my previous 19 blogs, you’ve probably noticed a thread: I listen to podcasts all of the time. Usually, I’m listening to these pods on my bike rides, runs, or walks around the neighborhood. Lately, I’ve started taking small notes on my phone to capture tidbits of information that I can reference later.

One of the main reasons I love podcasts while I work out is because it helps me focus in on the workout while also feeding my brain interesting, funny, inspirational, or educational content all at the same time. There is a train of thought that you learn better while exercising (or at least retain the information in a different way).

I think it helps you remember the podcast better because you associate what you’re listening to with the environment that you’re in. Since I’ve started jotting down notes from my podcasts, I’ll remember exactly where I was during the bike ride when hearing a piece of information, and this helps with recall.

What sort of podcasts do I listen to while working out? I’m someone who usually likes to listen to longform interview-based podcasts (like the Tim Ferriss Show or Masters of Scale). Sometimes I might throw on a sports podcast like The Ringer NBA Show or a fantasy football podcast. Other times I might listen to a political or financial podcast.

The bottom line to me is this: we have the ability to listen to some of the highest-performing people in the world at the click of a button while still getting an awesome workout in. In my opinion, you can’t beat that.

Cons

I will admit that there are definitely some drawbacks to listening to podcasts while you work out.

The biggest one for me is that it can hurt your performance. Sometimes I get so enthralled by the podcast that I naturally slow down to compensate for my concentration while listening to the pod.

If you are trying to hit a PR or you’re doing a super high-intensity workout, podcasts might not be the best option. High-intensity music might be better (or whatever music you like best).

When I’m going for more intense workouts (such as runs), I’ll typically throw on some of my favorite music to motivate me. But if it’s a lower or medium-range intensity workout, then podcasts are definitely my favorite. It’s really all personal preference and what works best for you.

Conclusion

Some of my best insights have come to me while I’m listening to podcasts during workouts. I think you can’t beat that value.

However, I can see the argument for wanting to listen to music or simply listen to nothing at all. I like both for certain situations.

I’d love to dive deeper into this topic in the future and what other people like to do during their workouts! What do you listen to while you workout? Or do you not listen to anything but your thoughts? I’d love to hear about your experiences. Feel free to comment or send me an email at jonah.baer1@gmail.com with your thoughts.

Cheers to exercising your body and brain at the same damn time,

JB


This was day 20 of the 30-day blogging challenge!

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Published by Jonah Baer

Florida State student | Memphis, TN native

One thought on “Podcasts vs. Music While Exercising

  1. Since starting my code challenge I listen to the CodeNewbie podcast every time I bike – it has been really really helpful in my learning journey and a needed contrast to the hours I spent just sitting in front of my laptop trying to decipher code

    Like

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