Can audiobooks replace playlists?

Compelling stories can keep you motivated on a run.

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More services are offering easy access to audiobooks and studies show that they can motivate athletes during workouts.

Unlike the songs on your inspirational playlist, audiobooks don’t have fast tempos or repetitive, catchy tunes to help you conquer a training session, but they do have one thing going for them: They deliver stories over the course of several hours, so they require multiple workouts to complete, says Katherine Milkman, Ph.D., associate professor of operations, information, and decisions at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. Thus, on a day when you’re lacking motivation, “the promise of finding out what happens to your favorite characters could be just as effective as an upbeat song to get you to lace up your sneakers.”

Ultimately, whatever helps fuel your workout—be it a playlist, podcast, or audiobook—is a plus. When opting for the latter, Milkman suggests choosing something more likely to make your heart race, like a thriller.

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