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Best running headphones & sport earbuds

Stay motivated with our top audio tech picks!


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Songs with a strong beat and inspiring lyrics are perfect for keeping you focused while you work out. And no, we don’t mean you should play “Eye of the Tiger” on repeat! From modern dance tracks to fast-paced thrash metal, there’s all kinds of music to keep you motivated as you exercise. And this is where gym headphones and earphones come in — delivering punchy audio and handy noise cancelling that’ll help you get the best results.

In this guide, we’ve recommended some of the best running headphones and earbuds to keep you on track. And if swimming or lifting weights is more your thing — no sweat! We’ve got tips for finding the best headphones for the gym, sports, running and all types of workouts.

Best sport headphones

The best all round sport headphones should be great for lots of different activities. Here’s what you’ll need to look out for:

  • High-quality audio drivers — For working out, you’ll want a balanced sound with driving bass and crystal-clear vocals to really boost your performance.

  • Secure and comfortable fit — Shop for adjustable headphones, and think about in-ear headphones with over-ear hooks or neckbands that’ll stay on during the most intense workouts.

  • Sweat and water resistance — If you don’t sweat when you exercise, then you’re not trying hard enough! Look out for an IPX rating to work out how resistant sports headphones are to sweat and water.

  • Noise cancellation — Some gyms are noisy and full of other people. Drown out the distractions and stay focused with headphones featuring noise-cancelling tech.

  • Wireless connectivityWireless headphones with built-in Bluetooth connect to your smartphone and let you move about without the hassle of tangled cables.

  • Battery life — There’s nothing worse than running out of juice mid-exercise. Look for headphones that offer between 6-12 hours of play from a single charge.

Best headphones for running

Running will get your heart pumping and your whole body moving — including your head. So, you better be wearing headphones that’ll stay on! Luckily, most on-ear and over-ear headphones provide a safe and secure fit. Their headbands are usually easy to adjust so that you can find the best fit. And of course, make sure you get those ear cushions placed just right.

Water resistance is another thing to think about when you’re shopping for running headphones. The last thing you want is moisture ruining all the parts inside. A rating of IPX4 or higher is ideal for resisting sweat but also rain if you get caught in a downpour outside.

A loose, dangling cable is annoying for most people using headphones. But while running, it’s even more of a pain while it’s flapping around! So, make sure to shop for wireless Bluetooth headphones that won’t trip you up. Setting these up is easy. Just switch on Bluetooth on your smartphone and you’ll be able to stream audio straight through your headphones. Oh, and noise-cancelling tech would be a good shout too — especially if you’re running on a treadmill in a noisy gym.

Best earbuds for running

Earbuds (also known as in-ear headphones or earphones) do exactly what standard headphones do. They pump audio straight into your ears so that you can enjoy music on-the-go, while exercising, or when you just want to kick back and chill. All without disturbing anyone else! Earbuds are much smaller and more discrete, as they’re made to go inside your ear canals rather than on or over the top of your ears.

Their compact size also makes them lighter and more portable than normal headphones. So, for some people, they’re not as tiring to wear and are less likely to cause headaches. It’s also worth saying that most in-ear headphones come with different ear tip sizes and types. If they’re not the perfect fit right out of the box, you can try a different set of tips to get it just right.

Are earbuds better than headphones for working out? Especially when it comes to running? No, it’s all comes down to what you prefer. Some people think that earbuds fall out after running a few metres, but they’re wrong. That’s because loads of earbuds now have ear fins, wings, hooks — whatever you want to call them — to make sure that they stay firmly in place when you run. These are often just known as sports headphones.

As you’d expect, the best running earbuds are wireless, with Bluetooth for easy streaming from your phone. Active noise-cancelling is a big plus if you can afford it too. And some of the best earbuds from the likes of Apple, Beats, Samsung, Sony and JBL are water/sweat resistant, so they’ll easily cope with the awful British weather or an Olympic-level gym sesh.

Best waterproof headphones for swimming

That’s right — there are swimming headphones designed to take the plunge! Headphones for swimming are specialised gadgets though and need an IPX7 rating or higher to be considered waterproof. So, make sure you double check. Because you’ll want to make sure they can handle a good dunking without conking out!

Some of the best swimming headphones look just like earbuds and can be popped into your ears like normal. They usually have fins or hooks to stop them from coming loose, which will save you from having to dive to the bottom of the pool to grab them.

Bone-conducting headphones are also popular with swimmers. These clever devices sit just in front of your ears and let sound pass through your bones, directly into your inner ear. Because there’s nothing in your ears, you can still hear any noises around you too. So, you’ll always be able to know what’s going on.

Wireless Bluetooth tech is built into most headphones for swimmers. This means that you can stream music or podcasts from your phone while you swim. The only drawback here is that you’ll need to make sure that your mobile or tablet is poolside and near enough to stay connected.

If it isn’t, you’ll probably experience annoying dropouts. This is why some swimming headphones come with built-in storage so that you can load them up with MP3s. It sounds a bit old-school, but at least it’s reliable and won’t ruin your swim session!


Are over-ear headphones better than in-ear headphones for running?

No, it’s really down to whatever you find comfortable. In-ear headphones are becoming more popular with runners these days though. That’s because they fit snugly inside your ears and stay there thanks to handy ear fins or hooks that keep them in place while you run.

They’re also lighter and more portable than over-ear headphones, with some offering transparency modes. These let you safely hear your surroundings, which can be important when running across a busy street or if you’re out on trails in the middle of nowhere.

What are the best earphones for running that don't fall out?

Special sports headphones mean you’ll never miss a beat. Smart design features like silicon wings mould to the shape of your ears for an even more secure and comfortable fit.

What are the best running earphones for small ears?

We’re all built different, and it can be difficult for people with small ears to find earbuds that fit comfortably. That’s because a lot of in-ear headphones (especially those made for sports) have fins and hooks that can stick out at funny angles. For runners with smaller ears, these can dig in and put pressure on different parts of their ears — which can be pretty painful after a little while.

Luckily, there are some ultra-slim earphones out there that’ll sit more naturally in your ear. Some of these come with between 4-6 different tip sizes that let you customise the earbuds until they fit properly. But with a smoother, less bulky design though — these kinds of in-ear headphones can fall out more easily when you exercise. If you’re shopping for one of your kids, you can check out our selection of kids headphones that are made to fit children with smaller ears and heads.

Want to learn more about the benefits of wireless headphones? Click here! And make sure to check out our entire range of headphones and earbuds before you go on your next run or gym workout.

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Pump out the tunes!