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8 Ways to Energize Your Jogging Playlist

Exploring relaxing vs. activating options.

Key points

  • Music and natural sound can be used to trigger desired mindstates.
  • A balanced mind improves any activity.
  • Playlists can train your mind for a better jog.

Many of us are thinking of ways we can improve our spring and summer jogs. One way to do this is to hit the pavement with your favorite music playlist fueling you. In this discussion, we’ll take a look at some strategies that can be used to squeeze more oomph out of your playlist and into your mind and body?

As conveyed in the book, Your Playlist Can Change Your Life: 10 Proven Ways Your Favorite Music Can Revolutionize Your Health, Memory, Organization, Alertness (2012), my co-authors and I discussed many ways to use music and natural sound to relieve anxiety, stress, and insomnia, as well as increase memory, organization, alertness, focus, and happiness. We also became interested in how music could affect athletic performance, such as martial arts and ice dancing, to name a few, and … jogging.

Find Healthy Beats

A good place to begin your personal playlist, whether for jogging or otherwise, is by discovering songs that you already think will either calm you down or energize you. Then test them out. You will see the effect on your mood, thinking, and performance in a matter of days or weeks.


A balanced mind (in terms of mindset and energy) will improve whatever you’re doing – jogging included! You can use your calming and activating tunes to achieve this feel-good mindset.

Think of balance as the space between calm and energized. Consider a specific task. When you’re balanced, you wouldn't want to be any mellower or it would diminish your performance. You couldn’t heighten your energy any further or you’d be … well, let’s say too edgy. Balance, then, is your energy "sweet-spot," located between calm and alert. It will change with tasks - e.g. when trying to flow through a three mile jog as opposed to pouring it on for the last stretch in, say, a competitive race. This is not only true of athletics. Solving a difficult math equation, for example, requires a different energy than playing a melody on the piano or having a nice night out with a friend. I recommended everyone have two playlists on their cell phone (or other electronic devices), A Relaxing Playlist and an Activating one. This way you can adjust your energy “up” or “down,” at the push of a button, per activity as needed.

Turbo-charge Your Jogging Playlist

  1. Identify songs that you like a lot and you feel will give you your desired mindset on your jogs. Note: some runners I know like to experience part of their run, in silence, and use their playlists as a reward at certain points in their run.
  2. Use BPM. BPM refers to beats per minute. Try using songs between 135 - 160 BPMs for jogs. This range drives a higher level of alertness and facilitates synchronizing your mind and body for the run. Techno, rock, classical, blues, jazz, rap, etc. all work great. Again, the more you like the tune the better it works. To give you the idea, Imagine, by John Lennon runs a leisurely 76 BPM, while Taylor Swift’s Midnight Rain at 140 BPM and the Stray Cats classic, Rock This Town, clocks in at a fast 202 BPM. You can find a song’s BPM with a Google search or by going to websites like You can take all the songs you gather from 135 - 160 BPMs and track them into an order think you’ll enjoy.
  3. Coordinate specific tunes with specific locations on your jog - e.g., when you hit the "park," or the two-mile point, or a certain hill etc. Match what song you'd like to hear at those markers. Anticipation sparks a hormonal cocktail your mind-body will enjoy. So anticipate the song and certain parts like the chorus or certain special lyrics that move you. These tricks boost the level of reward (pleasure and effect) when the song delivers.
  4. Listen to your favorite slow piece right before your jog. And play another when you finish. The first works as a warmup. Choose tunes under 100 BPM and play your song for 3-4 minutes. Then go to your steady keel of 135+ songs. This one-two energy punch will increase the energizing effect of the faster songs. It takes longer to calm down than it does to energize. So play your cooldown piece for 10-12 minutes.
  5. Arc your playlist. Organize songs to gradually increase in BPM, to smoothly stream you up to your desired running speed. Note: Staying at a fast BPM too long will dry up the faucet so to speak. So mix it up, as in #3 above.
  6. Use the emotional connection. Pick songs that send you the right emotional message to power your run – e.g. I likeThe Power, by Snap! which has a BPM of 109. A song’s emotional factor, however, can trump a faster BPM. So don't worry about mixing in a song with lower BPM as you arc your playlist. Creating your arc is more about the song's uplifting or relaxing effect on you than it is about sticking to just tempos.
  7. Connect with feel-good memories. Try songs you used to listen to in high school or earlier, say, to get you pumped up on the way to athletic events or other personal events that still fire your spirit as you recall them. Play a mental movie of these memories as you jog. This will further increase the song's already positive effects on your mind and body. Note: It’s important to combine music and imagery. This trick triggers more areas of the brain. So if you're energy is low or depressed, for example, you can associate a positive, exhilarating memory with uplifting images and positive tunes to transform you.
  8. Use slow meditative music at the end of your of your jog -- for a cool-down. Ten to 12 minutes of this as you work through your stretches will leave you feeling great. Mix in a little slow movement such as Tai Chi or Chi Kung.


Mindlin, G., DuRousseau, D., Cardillo, J. (2012). Your Playlist Can Change Your Life: 10 Proven Ways Your Favorite Music Can Revolutionize Your Health, Memory, Organization, Alertness. Naperville, IL: Sourcebooks.

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