Is it Fine to Use Headphones when Running? [Benefits, Drawbacks, and Safety Tips]

Running or jogging is a great exercise that helps runners stay fit. It helps in building a good physique. Many people prefer listening to music when running or working out, and it will always be subjective if it is safe. Some people will agree that it is safe to use headphones when running, while others disagree. However, it is safe if the necessary measures are taken into account. 

Why Do People Listen to Music While Running?

Listen To Music While Running

Most of us love listening to music when exercising or cooking. Some listen to music to relax while working. Runners love listening to music when running as it motivates them. It is a distraction that helps them focus on running.

There are pros and cons to using headphones when running. This article will highlight them and the safety tips to consider when listening to music while running.

Benefits of Using Headphones while Running

1. Motivation for Running

Sometimes runners do not want to do their daily running, but because it is vital to be consistent, they listen to music to boost their energy and increase motivation. A sports psychologist, Costas Karageorghis, Ph.D., says listening to music helps runners be motivated and go ahead with their dreaded run. 

According to him, music uplifts mood and curates happiness and excitement. It gets rid of negativity, stress, fatigue, and tension.

2. Consistent Pace

Listening to music helps runners maintain their pace. Recent studies prove that runners maintain their speed when listening to music and perform better because the beats match their cadence, unlike those who run without music.

If going for a slow run, it is best to listen to music whose beats are less than 120 beats per minute (BPM), but if going for a fast run, it is wise to listen to more than 120BPM. The perfect music helps runners recover from a complex and tiring workout.

3. Runs Feel Easier

Keele University in England conducted a study and according to the data, listening to music makes the runner at ease, reducing exertion levels.

It works because the external stimulus of the beats blocks the internal impulses such as fatigue, which communicates to the runner’s brain how tired they are in the middle of the session. While listening to music, that feeling isn’t there; hence the runner does not perceive how hard they are running. On the contrary, they run faster and for a longer time.

The Drawbacks of Running with Headphones

1. Headphones Affect Balance and Hearing

Using headphones doesn’t cause imbalance but listening to loud music via the headphones for a long duration will. It culminates in problems with the vestibular system in the runner’s inner ear, which is amenable for their balance.

Listening to music using headphones will damage your ears if used for a long time. Running on the road or treadmill becomes dangerous, and runners can get injured. If the balance is compromised, running in traffic areas isn’t safe as runners could fall and get hurt.

2. Not Being Aware of Surroundings

When listening to music, runners are unaware of their surroundings and activities. Runners are unaware of the sounds of oncoming vehicles or pedestrians and risk causing accidents. It is safe to listen to music at low volume if runners cannot do without it.

3. Movement Restriction

Running with headphones can restrict movements, especially if the earphones are not the right size or the cord keeps getting in the way and is not the right length. It causes neck strain, especially when performing core exercises.

4. Distraction 

As mentioned above, listening to music makes runners unaware of their surroundings. Still, if they listen to the wrong music, they get distracted because they indulge in the song lyrics.

Some songs make them get into deep thoughts and cause them a distraction from what they are doing. Fiddling with their phone to find the right songs causes distraction.

5. Ear Infection

Not cleaning the earphones frequently causes ear infections because of the built-up bacteria. Earphones contract and generate bacteria because they sometimes get mixed with sweat and earwax.

Safety Tips for Using Headphones when Running

Safety Tips For Using Headphones When Running

Many think that wearing headphones or listening to music is the root cause of mishaps that occur to runners, but this isn’t true. The root cause is awareness. Being aware of your surroundings is imperative, especially when running on roads with traffic or a lot of movement. It is okay to listen to music when running if safety tips are taken into action. 

Nowadays, manufacturers are making special headphones for sports that allow runners to enjoy their music and be aware of their surroundings simultaneously.

Below are a few safety tips runners should observe:

Avoid Noise Cancelling Headphones

The noise-canceling headphone is a hindrance to the around sounds. Since it is vital to be aware of the surrounding, runners shouldn’t invest in noise-canceling headphones.

Reflective Material

For runners who prefer to run before sunrise or after sunset, it is best to wear headphones that have reflective material. It alerts the people around them to be careful.

Utilize the iPhone App 

Unfortunately, this tip is limited to iPhone users as the iPhones come with an Awareness app. It allows runners to listen to music and people talking around them, creating awareness.

Group Running

It is better to run with someone or in a group than alone to ensure safety; the other runners can warn you if something is wrong. 

Sometimes running alone becomes distracting, especially if you aren’t aware of the environment and its happenings. It is easier to spot a group of runners than an individual.

Invest in Ear Workout Headphones

Wear headphones on top of the ear and not in the ear. It allows runners to adjust their headphones and be aware of the noise of vehicles and other elements.

Avoid Loud Volume

Runners should not listen to music at high volume as it distracts them from other noise and damages the ears in the long run.

The Final Word

Having learned about the benefits, drawbacks, and safety tips of using headphones while running, it is up to you to decide whether the gadget is ideal for you or not. Yes, you can use earphones when running, but ensure you observe safety tips such as avoiding noise-canceling headphones. Otherwise, if you can’t stick to safety rules, it is good to avoid headphones altogether.

Reference 1: Should You Run with Headphones? (

Reference 2: Headphones for running and sports – See pros and cons – Read the guide here! – Inspiration (

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