Headphones For Exercise: Perfect Fit Is Key


There’s nothing worse than trying to exercise when your headphones just won’t stay put. Viewpoints asks the pros for advice, and we share our ultimate workout headphone recommendation.

Take a jog to your nearest running path or track in your gym, and it’s hard to find a naked ear in sight. We love exercising with our headphones, whether it helps drown out the terrible gym tunes or provides a soundtrack to our outdoor workout. So what makes for the best of the best for headphones for exercise?

The basics

No matter what your sport, make sure you look for a secure fit for active conditions and sweat-proof build quality. Also, check into the warranty in case you have any issues with the headphones. If possible, try them on ahead of time, or make sure you can return them if they don’t work for you. Experts agree that you want to find a balance between value, utility and audio quality.

Finding the best fit

Since you’re on the move, a perfect fit is one of most important fundamentals of a good-quality workout headphone. Michael Koss, Jr., director of marketing for Koss Headphones, explains, “You can’t enjoy your music or work out if you’re constantly adjusting your headphones. For working out, we suggest headphones that offer customizable comfort and fit.”

If you want to ensure you’re getting a good fit with in-ear earbuds, look for a model that comes with different sized cushions so you can opt for the right size for your ear.

Headphones for outdoor exercise

While in-ear vs.over-the-ear headphones is a matter of preference, it also depends on where you’re working out and what you’re going to be doing. Dr. Philip Griffin, chief audiologist at Now Hear This, a clinic in North Carolina, says it’s important for safety reasons to wear over-the-ear headphones if you’re running or biking outside to be aware of cars or traffic. Most common are open-back on-ear headphones that don’t cause any discomfort from movement or sweating.

Koss adds, “If you’re going to be exercising outside or in the city, we suggest headphones that are non-isolating. Koss makes several pairs of non-isolating headphones (in different styles) that offer what we call ‘hear-through sound’ ok. The benefit of non-isolating headphones is that you can enjoy your music and still be aware of your surroundings.”

Koss goes on to say, “There are two major things to consider for biking or running, the cord, and the weight of the headphone…Weight is more an issue for runners; you want to make sure the headphone is going to stay in place through your stride. Generally a lighter headphone is going to respond more precisely to your movement.”

Tips on headphones for the gym

For those who like to bike or spin at an indoor gym, the options are endless. “Some of our in-ear headphones have cords designed to go behind the head, which is a really nice feature,” Koss suggests. “We also have wireless headphones, so you can avoid the cord problem altogether.”

For those inside a gym, inner earbuds might be a better choice. These will block out exterior sound and prevent the music from leaving the ear. Griffin says these are a better choice to preserve hearing and listen to music at a lower volume. “If the earphones don’t actually close up the ear, they’ll have to turn up the sound,” he explains. “People want to hear their music a certain amount of decibels louder than whatever is around them.”

A good compromise is the earHerosport headphones (retail $149), which allow you to clearly hear your music while hearing everything around you as well. Originally sold to government security personnel, the company, earHero, is now offering this technology to the general public. USA Today recommends these audiologist-designed headphones for safe listening and excellent sound, since the tiny speaker sits inside your ear.


Video: Watch this video to see how the earHerosport headphones fit in your ear. 

Bottom Line Recommendation

There is no right answer for the ultimate workout headphone. As Koss says, “It is hard to pinpoint one universal style because people work out in so many different ways. Probably the best recommendation is a headphone that is going to keep up with you!”

We did our research and found the hottest pair of headphones for exercising on the market right now at a fair price tag. Experts can’t stop raving about the Sennheiser Adidas CX 680i headphones (retail $80). These black and yellow beauties are pretty much an all around favorite with music aficionados and fitness buffs alike, and we’re not surprised. Adidas and Sennheiser got together to create a durable and somewhat affordable masterpiece.

Experts say they hit all the main points. They fit securely by being snug but not tight. They can withstand splashes and sweat, and they even have those side controls you love on your Apple device (both a microphone and volume control). The impressive sound doesn’t hurt either.

Marly Schuman Marly Schuman (84 Posts)

Marly Schuman is a former content specialist at Viewpoints.