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Music is a powerful motivator: Before a big game, first day on the job, while doing several week’s worth of laundry, and especially during a workout. In fact, a study from the Journal of Sports Sciences explored the impact of listening to music during a workout and the results demonstrated that music does in fact have a positive impact on perceived enjoyment, attitudes, and even intentions toward working out. If music can make exercise a more positive experience, why not get the best headphones possible to make the most of your fitness routine?
While you may have a few pairs of headphones lying around the house, know that not all models are suitable for the intense, sweaty demands of exercise. Follow along as we explore the different styles of headphones tailored to fitness and share what to look for when picking your perfect pair of buds.
Shop our top picks of the best headphones for working out.
Best Overall: Jabra Elite Active 75t True Wireless Earbuds
These small-but-mighty true wireless earbuds have a durable, lightweight build that doesn't look or feel heavy and bulky in the ear. Equipped with four microphones, Jabra’s noise-canceling earbuds provide crisp and clear audio for calls while helping drown out excess background noise.
The Jabra Elite Active 75t includes Jabra's most current technology. In fact, the advanced digital chip inside this model enables Jabra to continue to refine and improve its technology even after the headphones are purchased. This includes the addition of ANC, active noise cancellation, and HearThrough, which can be activated through the user-friendly Jabra Sound+ app along with the optimization of your audio and the option to integrate Siri or Google Assistant.
Equipped with Bluetooth 5.0, the Jabra Elite Active 75t in-ear monitors deliver a secure fit with a special grip coating to stay firmly in place during exercise. Physical buttons allow you to easily change the song and volume without stepping off the treadmill or bike. These compact, durable in-ear headphones boast IP57-rated dust and water resistance to tackle any sweaty gym session or rainy outdoor workout.
The Jabra Elite Active 75t delivers up to 7.5 hours of playback on a single charge and up to 28 hours in total with the case. For a quick boost, plug in for 15 minutes and gain an hour of playback time. This pair comes in mint, copper black, navy, and sienna.
Best Budget: PALOVUE Lightning Earphones with Microphone Wired Earbuds
You may think a pair of wired earbuds is old school given all the wireless options on the market, but even the most expensive wireless Bluetooth headphones have pairing and sound issues. For uninterrupted, clear, crisp music that’ll deliver great sound on a budget—without having to worry about the battery running low—opt for PALOVUE’s plug-and-play wired earbuds. These in-ear monitors feature a lightning connection with a sweatproof sport fit that’s ergonomically designed with athletes in mind. The soft, moldable earbuds fit securely in the ear canal with a customizable set of ear tips and wings designed to stay in place no matter how vigorous the workout.
The NeoFlow Earbuds from PALOVUE are equipped with 13.6-millimeter drivers, delivering a rich, bass-filled sound with noise isolation. These wired earbuds are magnetic, connecting on your neck like a necklace when not in use for safekeeping. The handy in-line control with a built-in microphone allows users to manage sound and song choice mid-workout or call. The NeoFlow Earbuds are certified by the Apple MFi Program and are compatible with iOS devices, which includes the use of Siri. These handsome sport earbuds are made from sturdy, premium aluminum and stainless steel with extra durable, reinforced wire. They're offered in a black and red combo or a white and silver combo.
Best Splurge: Bang & Olufsen Beoplay E8 3rd Gen
The third generation Beoplay E8 provides seven hours of playing time with an additional four charges in the case, totaling 35 hours. This pair of premium, truly wireless in-ear monitors has a gorgeous low-profile design complete with a matching crafted leather QI-certified wireless charging case that magnetically secures the brushed aluminum earbuds in place. Each pair comes with multiple silicone tip options to find the perfect fit. The compact in-ear headphones provide a tight, stable seal helping drown out background noise and provide a richer sound experience. To hear the world around you, simply tap into transparency mode.
These Bang & Olufsen earbuds are super lightweight; Once they're in, you'll be able to wear them comfortably all day and during high-intensity workouts. Jeraldine Mendoza, ballet dancer and Company Artist with the Joffrey Ballet, wears the Bang & Olufsen Beoplay E8 3rd Gen earbuds while warming up before a technique class and throughout her day. “I’m constantly moving my body, so I can’t be bothered by clunky headphones, wires, or earbuds that easily fall out,” Mendoza said. “I’m attracted to function, design, and minimalism; Ergo, my earbuds are always with me, and we’re always grooving together.”
Equipped with 5.7-milliliter drivers, these small buds pack a powerful punch when it comes to sound. The intuitive touch interface allows for full control of songs, sound, calls, voice commands, and modes. These luxurious wireless earbuds come with Bluetooth 5.1 connectivity and are offered in black, gray mist, pink, and green.
Best Noise-Cancelling: Bose QuietComfort Noise-Cancelling Earbuds
Headphones with active noise cancellation, also called ANC, use a tiny outer facing microphone to detect ambient noise and cancel it out in real-time. You may think noise-canceling headphones are strictly for school and work, but they’re also beneficial in a variety of situations. For instance, when commuting or at the gym surrounded by loud people and music, we tend to turn up our own music or phone call so we can hear the competing sounds. Wearing noise-canceling headphones helps block out external noise, allowing you to keep your volume down, which in turn protects your hearing.
Bose QuietComfort® Earbuds deliver a whole new level of sound. These true wireless noise-canceling in-ear monitors provide a silence-backed audio experience for crisp, clear music complete with every audible pause, breath, and emotion not otherwise heard over background noise we all experience in everyday life. The StayHear® Max tip design is made of soft silicone for tightly sealed, comfortable all-day wear. The Bose QuietComfort® Earbuds are IPX4-rated and feature a sleek, modern oval design with an intuitive touch interface. Instead of clunky buttons, control the wireless earbuds with the tap of a finger.
These true wireless in-ear monitors are optimized for Bluetooth 5.1 and are compatible with iOS and Android. Enjoy up to six hours of music on a single charge and up to 12 hours with the charging case. For a quick boost, a plugin for 15 minutes and gain two hours of playing time. These premium noise-canceling headphones are offered in triple black and soapstone.
Best for iPhone: Apple AirPods Pro
AirPods have become somewhat ubiquitous, particularly among iPhone users. Walk around any big city or college campus and find them in the ears of seemingly every passerby. The new and improved model, the AirPods Pro, delivers active noise cancellation. They adapt to the shape of your ear to block outside noise with an outward-facing microphone that detects and cancels noise before it penetrates. This mode can easily be turned off to hear the world around you by pressing the sensors on the stem of the headphone. Also, change the song, adjust the volume, switch between modes all with the tap of a finger. Apple’s Adaptive EQ automatically tunes the music to the shape of your ear, providing unmatched sound quality.
The AirPods Pro is IPX4-rated and delivers 24 hours of listening time total with the included wireless charging case. Each charge lasts for up to 4.5 hours with an incredibly fast recharge rate delivering a full hour of listening time after only five minutes. Unlike the original AirPods, the Pro model features comfortable, secure silicone ear tips offered in three sizes for the perfect fit.
Best for Android: Google Pixel Buds 2
Right off the bat, Google’s second-generation Pixel Buds are a clear standout in terms of aesthetics. The minimalist, modern design comes in four understated matte colors, clearly white, oh so orange, quite mint, and almost black. For Android users, these Bluetooth buds deliver hands-free Google Assistant with the ability to translate conversations in real-time through its Google Translate integration.
Google Pixel Buds 2 are truly wireless earbuds with user-friendly touch controls. Each pair comes with a wireless charging case plus three sizes of ear tips for a custom fit. These IPX4-rated earbuds pair with any Bluetooth 4.0+ device including Android, iOS, tablets, and laptops. Enjoy five hours of listening on a single charge or 24 hours with the case.
Best for Running: AfterShokz Aeropex Open-Ear Wireless Bone Conduction Headphones
AfterShokz Aeropex Open-Ear Wireless Bone Conduction Headphones are engineered with bone conduction, which means they do not actually sit inside the ear canal. Instead, the wraparound design goes around the head, where it ends up sitting on top of the cheekbones, transmitting sound waves to the ear from the jaw and cheekbones. This open-air design is critical for athletes who train outdoors like runners and bikers as it keeps the ears free to hear the world around them. Most importantly, bone conduction technology allows athletes to enjoy music while maintaining situational awareness.
This lightweight, comfortable design is IP67-rated—one of the highest ratings—to protect the device against dust, airborne particles, sweat, and liquids. "The waterproof feature is a special plus with all the sweating I do during workouts," said Natasha Hastings, two-time Olympic gold medalist track and field sprinter.
The AfterShokz Aeropex delivers eight hours of music with a quick recharge time of two hours. Phone calls are clear and crisp with the dual noise-canceling microphone, and volume is controlled with user-friendly buttons. AfterShokz Aeropex Open-Ear Wireless Bone Conduction Headphones are equipped with Bluetooth 5.0 and are offered in blue eclipse, lunar gray, solar red, and cosmic black.
Best for HIIT: Beats Powerbeats Pro
Beats’ true wireless Powerbeats Pro headphones deliver everything you know and love about the AirPods Pro with a major upgrade in terms of fit and stability. The secure, adjustable ear hook design of the Powerbeats Pro stabilizes the in-ear buds so you can hit those explosive sets without worrying about losing a bud halfway through. Even more, the IPX4-rated headphones have no problem keeping up with the demands of an intense workout. The Powerbeats Pro are water-resistant and provide a rich, balanced sound complete with noise isolation.
Beats by Dr. Dre (Beats) was acquired by Apple in 2014, so the Powerbeats Pro is equipped with all the same technology as Apple devices. Featuring Apple's H1 chip and Class 1 Bluetooth®, these headphones deliver faster pairing and charging, longer battery life, improved connection speed with extended range, and fewer dropouts, just to name a few.
Have full control over your listening including an independent earbud connection that enables you to start and stop audio or change the volume in one or both ears. The Powerbeats Pro lasts up to nine hours on a single charge and 24 hours total with the case. A 5-minute plug-in boasts up to 1.5 hours of listening time. The Powerbeats Pro is a game-changer for serious athletes and comes in a variety of classic and vibrant matte colors.
Best for Swimming: Sony Waterproof and Dustproof Walkman with Bluetooth
Tunes underwater, anyone? Sony's light and slim behind-the-ear headphones are waterproof, dustproof Bluetooth headphones. Swim laps while listening to your favorite playlists or podcasts with 4GB of onboard storage. For workouts on land, stream music from your smartphone via Bluetooth with One-touch NFC pairing. Between workouts, catch up on calls with the built-in microphone and Bluetooth connectivity.
The Sony NWWS623/B provides 12 hours of battery life for a full day of music in the sun, sand, or water. For a quick boost, three minutes of power provides a full hour of listening time. This IPX5/8-rated dust- and waterproof headset can be fully submerged in water up to 6.56 feet for 30 minutes at a time.
Best Battery Life: Anker Soundcore Spirit X2
Forget to plug in last night? No problem. Anker Soundcore Spirit X2 true wireless headphones supply up to four full days of juice with nine hours of power on a single charge, and 36 hours total with the charging case. That's a lot of workouts!
These sport-centric wireless earbuds feature a secure and flexible ear-hook that stabilizes the earbuds during workouts. Anker’s innovative design features a twist and lock mechanism that keeps the headphones vertically in place no matter if you're a gymnast or runner. Each pair comes with various sizes of tips and wings to ensure the ideal fit.
The Anker Soundcore Spirit X2 is a powerhouse, rated-IP68 for dust and water resistance; Boasting a submarine structure and hydrophobic nano-coating that protects the surface from the corrosive nature of sweat. Optimized for Bluetooth 5.0, these wireless ear hook headphones deliver high-definition audio with noise reduction for crisp, clear calling. Tactile controls allow you to easily manage sound and playback. For the ultimate workout motivator, these headphones feature 12-millimeter drivers and BassTurbo resulting in a rich, booming bass. For high-quality sound, a secure fit, and superior battery life, choose the Anker Soundcore Spirit X2.
Best On-Ear: Adidas RPT-01 Sport On-Ear Headphones
The Adidas RPT-01 Sport On-Ear Headphones provide a rugged, ergonomic design with an ultra-stable yet flexible fit; staying put whether you're walking or running. The IPX4-rated headphones feature a comfortable knit mesh-like fabric over lightweight ear cushions that are washable after a sweaty workout.
These wireless Bluetooth on-ear headphones feature user-friendly controls for a seamless listening experience. Change the song, adjust the volume, and answer calls all using a small knob on the speaker. The Adidas RPT-01 Sport On-Ear Headphones afford over 40 hours of playing time and recharge fully in under three hours using the provided USB-C cable. Optimized for Bluetooth 5.0, these on-ear workout headphones are compatible with the Adidas Headphones app where users can fully customize their listening experience.
For those who exercise outdoors, AfterShokz Aeropex Open-Ear Wireless Bone Conduction Headphones deliver high-quality sound, yet enable you to be aware of your surroundings. The open-ear design transmits sound waves through the cheekbone to the inner ear without ever making contact with the ear itself. These wireless headphones provide a durable, waterproof construction with eight hours of sound.
For current AirPods owners looking to upgrade or anyone who has their eyes on Apple’s prized buds, Powerbeats Pro delivers all the same features with a more comfortable and stable fit for sports and fitness. The adjustable ear hook design keeps the earbuds locked in place through vigorous workouts; so you don’t have to worry about losing an earbud. Powerbeats Pro lasts up to nine hours on a single charge and 24 hours total with the case.
What to Look For in Headphones for Workouts
Headphones are somewhat of an umbrella term that loosely covers both headphones and earbuds. Technically, a headphone only describes a classic over-the-ear pair of headphones. While many people opt for a lightweight, wireless option, some audiophiles choose a larger classic style headphone for the richer sound over a wireless earbud.
For a more portable option, earbuds are broken down into two categories: earbuds, which sit just outside the ear canal, and in-ear monitors (IEMs), which sit snugly in the ear canal. Earbuds are typically lower in cost and aren't usually designed for sweat. Therefore, they’re likely to slide out of your ears as you work out and eventually can stop working. In-ear monitors are made from comfortable, moldable materials that help them stay in place. They also deliver better sound quality due to the tightly sealed fit. IEMs are without a doubt the best option of the two for an active lifestyle.
Ear hook headphones are ideal for high-intensity activities and athletes looking for a more secure fit. This style still features an in-ear bud with the added stability of an adjustable ear hook housing to keep it in place.
Bone conduction headphones never make direct contact with the ear. This style fits around the back of the head like a headband and comes over and around the ear, tracing the cheekbone. Vibrations are transmitted through the cheekbones to the ear. This process bypasses the outer and middle ear completely, which makes it a viable option for some individuals with hearing loss. This is a popular style among runners and athletes who train outdoors and need to maintain situational awareness. “They're incredibly comfortable and keep my ears free to hear things in my surrounding environment,” said Natasha Hastings, two-time Olympic gold medalist track and field sprinter.
Wireless vs True Wireless
Both wireless and true wireless earbuds use Bluetooth connectivity. Wireless earbuds are still wireless in the sense that they do not need to plug into a phone; Instead, they have a cord connecting one earbud to the other, serving as a pathway for signal transmission. True wireless earbuds have no cords whatsoever. While many people prefer to have less weight and no cords during a workout, some athletes do like the security of the connecting cord. For example, if you drop your earbuds, they're much easier to locate.
Headphone manufacturers always seem to claim that their products are sweatproof, but what does that really mean? To find out, look for the unit's IP rating or Ingress Protection Code. This code discloses how durable and sturdy the unit is against external forces like dust and other airborne particles, accidental contact, and water.
To evaluate an IP rating, look at the first number following "IP" which represents the unit’s resistance to solid particles like dust and dirt, rated on a scale from zero to six.
The second number represents the unit's level of water resistance, rated on a scale from zero to seven. If there's an X, it means there is no defined rating for that metric. The higher the number, the more the resistance. As a rule of thumb, headphones and earbuds for working out should have a minimum rating of IPX4 for water resistance.
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Byrdie contributor Emily Stone is a health and fitness writer with experience working for lifestyle and fitness publications and activewear brands. As a fitness enthusiast and fellow shopper, she's passionate about finding reliable fitness gear and equipment that prioritizes comfort and function for people of all shapes, sizes, and abilities.