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Best headphones for running or working out

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Whether your most important factor is fit, apps, or sweatproofing, we’ve gathered the best options for workout headphones.

All products featured here are independently selected by our editors and writers.If you buy something through links on our site, Mashable may earn an affiliate commission.

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The only thing more important to runners than their sneakers is a quality pair of headphones and a killer playlist. Running without music is like some form of medieval torture: it sucks. And cheap, crappy headphones just aren’t going to cut it.

When shopping for a quality pair of headphones to wear while running, you’ll want to look at a few key factors: Are they sweatproof/waterproof? Will they stay in your ears? Are the volume controls easily accessible? If you answer no to any of these questions, then you know the headphones aren’t going to work.

Out top choice for running headphones are the Bose SoundSport Pulse wireless headphones, which pair easily with your phone via Bluetooth, have comfy ear tips to keep them in place while you run, and are compatible with running apps like like MapMyRun, RunKeeper, Endomondo, and Runtastic. These headphones will even help you track your heart rate while you work out. 

When it comes to wired headphones, we’re partial to the Bose SoundSports as well. Bose has been in the game for a long time, and their well-made headphones are worth the money — plus they have great audio. There’s a reason they’re at the top of our list. If you’re not looking to spend a lot of money though, our budget-friendly pick are the JBL Endurance RUN headphones, which will only set you back $20. (If you seriously want a deal, peep our list come Black Friday, when we’ll be rounding up all the best deals.)

Of course, there are plenty more headphones available for runners, whether you’re training for a marathon or just looking to take a jog around the block. From those that are sweatproof and have fitness tracking capabilities, to headphones with wires, earbud-style pairs, and everything in between, these are some of the best headphones available on Amazon right now.

Best wireless earbuds

Maybe you don’t want to deal with a long wire when running or want features that can track your progress while you hit the pavement. Wireless earbuds may be the best choice for you. These are also a great choice if you carry your smartphone in a waist pack, making it difficult to find a cord that will reach. There are plenty of options available that use a link cable for the earphones only or are completely wireless and have features like fitness tracking or voice controls. Whatever you’re looking for, these earbuds are all excellent for runners.


Built-in mic • Bose Connect app functions • Bluetooth or NFC connectivity • Tracks heart rate and pairs with workout apps
If you’re into great sound quality and tracking your workouts and heart rate, these could be the headphones for you.
Any runner knows that tracking your runs is essential. Data or it didn’t happen, right? While sound quality and flexibility are always good features, a great pair of headphones will do more than that. Available in aqua, black, blue, red, and white, the Bose SoundSport Pulse Wireless are excellent earbuds for runners. They have the features you’d expect at that price point, including Bose Connect app functions, Bluetooth or NFC connectivity, and a built-in mic. On top of that, the Pulse can track heart rate, which can help you pace yourself during a long training run or on race day. You’ll also be able to pair up the Pulse with workout apps like Endomondo or MapMyRun to further keep track of your runs.
 Amazon user Ray was one of the people praising the SoundSport Pulse for their sound and workout features in their review, saying:

“Without a doubt, these are the best earbud-style headphones I have ever heard. From the moment I started testing them, I was extremely impressed with their clarity, dynamic range, “presence,” and, yes, even comfort. Most earbuds I have used over the years require a few days of use before they start to “break in” (and, yes, I know there is controversy about this issue, but I have experienced it myself on multiple brands of headphones at all price levels), but these sounded wonderful right from the first moment of play.”


Cord can wrap around either front or back • Features ambient noise reduction • Has companion app • Works with voice assistants
Not the cheapest, but not the priciest either
If you’re looking for some solid wireless earbuds that pair well with voice assistants, these might be the ones you want.

2. Jabra Elite 45e

The Elite 45e headphones are an example of quality at an affordable price.

Jabra has been making a name for itself in the headphones world, offering more affordable options that can compete with some of the bigger companies like Sony and Bose. Thankfully, affordable doesn’t mean low quality, especially with wireless earbuds. The Elite 45e headphones are an example of that quality at an affordable price. These headphones have a cord that wraps around the front or back of the neck to create a secure fit, which is especially helpful when running. They have ambient noise reduction to keep distracting sounds at a minimum so you can focus on your music rather than what’s going on around you. This is especially helpful for treadmill runners who are forced to contend with annoying chit chat at the gym. The companion Jabra+ app allows you to adjust the audio to fit your needs, plus these headphones are compatible with Alexa, Siri, and Google Assistant. The battery should last you up to eight hours on a single charge, which is plenty of time for knocking out that Saturday morning 10-miler. 
Alison Hudson gave the Jabra Elite 45e a five star review on Amazon, saying:

“These earbuds are really nicely made. The outer earpiece, with its ear-fitting curvature, take a little getting used to, but they work to keep the bud where it’s supposed to be. Bluetooth connection has worked fine for me, with no issues to speak of. Audio quality is good, and the earbuds keep the sound inside (and other noises out).”


Truly wireless • App tracks them if they get lost • Can be recharged while being used
If you’re looking for truly wireless earbuds with great sound and loss prevention features, these might be the ones.

3. Bose SoundSport Free Wireless

These truly wireless ear buds can charge while you’re using them, and the app can help you locate them in the event that they fall out.

If you get super sweaty when you run — no matter what the distance is — then these truly wireless headphones are a great option. The Bose SoundSport Free are some of the best earbuds available. These will provide more freedom of movement since there’s absolutely no cable, while secure ear tips will keep the buds in place. And if you’re concerned that these earbuds will be easier to lose since there is no connective cable, fear not. The Bose Connect app can track lost earbuds with the “Find My Buds” feature. And if you start running low on battery, put them in the charge case for a quick recharge mid run, without ever having to break stride. 
Amazon user Brian is one of many very pleased with the SoundSport Free in his review, saying:

“Sound quality is excellent. Plenty of bass, but doesn’t overpower the rest of the notes. Also very easy to use.”

Best wired earbuds

Wired headphones are the more classic choice, and perhaps the most versatile since you can pack them with you while you travel and use them just as easily while running through a new city as you can on a plane, plugged into the in-flight entertainment. Wired earphones lean into simplicity rather than offering a crazy amount of features. So if you’re looking for an option without all the bells and whistles, wired earbuds could be the way to go. Plus, since most of these are priced more moderately, you won’t feel bad when you inevitably lose them.


Very affordable • Magnets keep the headphones from tangling
Sound quality may not be as high as higher-end models • No app
A magnet helps you keep these very affordable and highly-rated wired headphones from tangling.

4. JBL Endurance RUN

These are the kind of headphones you buy in multiples so you don’t have to fret once you’ve inevitably lost a pair.

As reliable as wired headphones can be, dealing with the wire can still be annoying. We hate it when the wires flop around during a run or get tangled in our gym bag. But if you find the right set, that could be avoided without having to go wireless. If that’s what you’re looking for, JBL has the headset you’re looking for in the Endurance RUN. The key difference is that the earbuds are magnetic, so you can keep them connected while in transport. Priced at less than $20, these are a no nonsense pair of headphones that have great sound and a very modest price. These are the kind of headphones you buy in multiples so you don’t have to fret once you’ve inevitably lost a pair. 
Don S. rated the Endurance RUN at five stars on Amazon and said:

“I use JBL products often in my professional live sound work so I tried these out and they are the level of quality I expect from JBL.”


Earhook feature keeps headphones secure • Sweatproof • Very affordable
No fancy app or tracking
If you’re looking to really save money, these are a great super cheap option.
If you’re are looking for pure simplicity, the ROVKING Sport Headphones are the ones to get. These are simple headphones that deliver good sound quality for the price, but won’t blow the doors off by any means. The appeal of these earbuds is, aside from price, the secure design. This style of headphones includes earhooks that can hold the earbuds in place, which is probably the most important thing for runners. These are also sweatproof, which means they’ll keep working even when they get drenched. 
Jennifer Kittrell is among the 63% of Amazon users who rated the ROVKING at five stars, highlighting the earhook design. Here is an excerpt from their review:

“What blew me away was the ear phone fit and the sound. I must have oddly shaped ears because I can never get ear buds to fit comfortably or stay in–and when I do, they actually hurt. Having this over-the-ear feature was wonderful and the padded part fits completely in my ears very comfortably.”


Affordable • Offers a variety of fit options • Waterproof
If you struggle to find a good fit, and need something waterproof, these headphones could solve those problems.

6. Sony MDRXB510AS/B

These Sony earbuds offer multiple sets of covers and hooks to hold the earbuds securely in place.

Flexibility is a big part of any runner’s life, and the same should be applied to headphones. The out-of-box version may not always fit or be comfortable in the ear, so its important there’s a means to wear them properly. That is where the Sony MDRXB510AS/B comes into play. Compared to the other wired headsets here, the Sony earbuds offer multiple sets of covers and hooks to hold the earbuds securely in place so you can find a set that both fits comfortably and will stay in during a long run. These are all waterproof as well, so you know they will be able to handle the elements. Keeping your feet dry while you run is another story. 
Warren Harris praised the earbuds on Amazon, saying:

“Very comfortable and the sound is exceptional. These are a LOT better than my much more expensive Bose earbuds – and LOUDER. Excellent design and sound!”


Highly-rated sound quality • Affordable for Bose headphones • Easy access to volume controls
Still a bit pricey
If you want Bose sound but don’t want to spend a ton, these could be the ones for you.

7. Bose SoundSport

Bose SoundSport are a great set of headphones to buy when the clarity of audio really matters to you.

The Bose SoundSport are a great set of headphones to buy when the clarity of audio really matters to you. This wired pair includes quick access to volume controls, making it easy to adjust your music while you run. Bose is arguably the biggest company today in the realm of headphones with offerings at every scale. The audio quality of the SoundSport headphones is thanks, in part, to the Triport technology: built in vents that help give a boost to the bass, thus offering a much fuller sound. 
Gabe on Amazon praised the Bose SoundSport in their review, saying:

“The Bose headphones fit snugly, securely, and comfortably in my ears throughout my runs. Additionally, they provide pretty good sound quality given the fact the speakers are small.”

Best wireless over-ear headphones for runners

While a little more limited, there are still over-ear headphones that can work for runners. Whether earbuds bother your ears or you want more noise canceling capabilities while running, these headphones can definitely fill that space.


Great for those who prefer over-ear headphones • Highly-rated sound and comfort • Affordable
If you don’t like over-ear headphones, don’t buy these
If your preference is over-ear but you still like to run/workout, these are a great option.
We know what you’re thinking: Over-ear headphones for running can be tricky to find. You want to look for a pair that won’t wear down because of heavy usage and sweating, and that will also stay put while you’re on the move. Thanks to Levin, there’s a headset that fits these requirements. The Levin Bluetooth 4.1 Wireless Headphones deliver an affordable and reliable option for anyone who prefers over-ear headphones. The earphones wrap around the back of the neck and have ear hook so they sit securely. That also alleviates some pressure on the ears since you don’t have to put earbuds into the ear, which could be an uncomfortable option for some people. 
Chris Purcell gave a positive review of the Levin headphones on Amazon, saying:

“The headphones sound great and have phenomenal battery life. I highly recommend this product, especially if you plan to use these to workout, or have problems with in-ear headphones.”

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The Trump campaign celebrated a growth record that Democrats downplayed.

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The White House celebrated economic growth numbers for the third quarter released on Thursday, even as Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s presidential campaign sought to throw cold water on the report — the last major data release leading up to the Nov. 3 election — and warned that the economic recovery was losing steam.

The economy grew at a record pace last quarter, but the upswing was a partial bounce-back after an enormous decline and left the economy smaller than it was before the pandemic. The White House took no notice of those glum caveats.

“This record economic growth is absolute validation of President Trump’s policies, which create jobs and opportunities for Americans in every corner of the country,” Mr. Trump’s re-election campaign said in a statement, highlighting a rebound of 33.1 percent at an annualized rate. Mr. Trump heralded the data on Twitter, posting that he was “so glad” that the number had come out before Election Day.

The annualized rate that the White House emphasized extrapolates growth numbers as if the current pace held up for a year, and risks overstating big swings. Because the economy’s growth has been so volatile amid the pandemic, economists have urged focusing on quarterly numbers.

Those showed a 7.4 percent gain in the third quarter. That rebound, by far the biggest since reliable statistics began after World War II, still leaves the economy short of its pre-pandemic levels. The pace of recovery has also slowed, and now coronavirus cases are rising again across much of the United States, raising the prospect of further pullback.

“The recovery is stalling out, thanks to Trump’s refusal to have a serious plan to deal with Covid or to pass a new economic relief plan for workers, small businesses and communities,” Mr. Biden’s campaign said in a release ahead of Thursday’s report. The rebound was widely expected, and the campaign characterized it as “a partial return from a catastrophic hit.”

Economists have warned that the recovery could face serious roadblocks ahead. Temporary measures meant to shore up households and businesses — including unemployment insurance supplements and forgivable loans — have run dry. Swaths of the service sector remain shut down as the virus continues to spread, and job losses that were temporary are increasingly turning permanent.

“With coronavirus infections hitting a record high in recent days and any additional fiscal stimulus unlikely to arrive until, at the earliest, the start of next year, further progress will be much slower,” Paul Ashworth, chief United States economist at Capital Economics, wrote in a note following the report.

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Black and Hispanic workers, especially women, lag in the U.S. economic recovery.

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The surge in economic output in the third quarter set a record, but the recovery isn’t reaching everyone.

Economists have long warned that aggregate statistics like gross domestic product can obscure important differences beneath the surface. In the aftermath of the last recession, for example, G.D.P. returned to its previous level in early 2011, even as poverty rates remained high and the unemployment rate for Black Americans was above 15 percent.

Aggregate statistics could be even more misleading during the current crisis. The job losses in the initial months of the pandemic disproportionately struck low-wage service workers, many of them Black and Hispanic women. Service-sector jobs have been slow to return, while school closings are keeping many parents, especially mothers, from returning to work. Nearly half a million Hispanic women have left the labor force over the last three months.

“If we’re thinking that the economy is recovering completely and uniformly, that is simply not the case,” said Michelle Holder, an economist at John Jay College in New York. “This rebound is unevenly distributed along racial and gender lines.”

The G.D.P. report released Thursday doesn’t break down the data by race, sex or income. But other sources make the disparities clear. A pair of studies by researchers at the Urban Institute released this week found that Black and Hispanic adults were more likely to have lost jobs or income since March, and were twice as likely as white adults to experience food insecurity in September.

The financial impact of the pandemic hit many of the families that were least able to afford it, even as white-collar workers were largely spared, said Michael Karpman, an Urban Institute researcher and one of the studies’ authors.

“A lot of people who were already in a precarious position before the pandemic are now in worse shape, whereas people who were better off have generally been faring better financially,” he said.

Federal relief programs, such as expanded unemployment benefits, helped offset the damage for many families in the first months of the pandemic. But those programs have mostly ended, and talks to revive them have stalled in Washington. With virus cases surging in much of the country, Mr. Karpman warned, the economic toll could increase.

“There could be a lot more hardship coming up this winter if there’s not more relief from Congress, with the impact falling disproportionately on Black and Hispanic workers and their families,” he said.

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Ant Challenged Beijing and Prospered. Now It Toes the Line.

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As Jack Ma of Alibaba helped turn China into the world’s biggest e-commerce market over the past two decades, he was also vowing to pull off a more audacious transformation.

“If the banks don’t change, we’ll change the banks,” he said in 2008, decrying how hard it was for small businesses in China to borrow from government-run lenders.

“The financial industry needs disrupters,” he told People’s Daily, the official Communist Party newspaper, a few years later. His goal, he said, was to make banks and other state-owned enterprises “feel unwell.”

The scope of Mr. Ma’s success is becoming clearer. The vehicle for his financial-technology ambitions, an Alibaba spinoff called Ant Group, is preparing for the largest initial public offering on record. Ant is set to raise $34 billion by selling its shares to the public in Hong Kong and Shanghai, according to stock exchange documents released on Monday. After the listing, Ant would be worth around $310 billion, much more than many global banks.

The company is going public not as a scrappy upstart, but as a leviathan deeply dependent on the good will of the government Mr. Ma once relished prodding.

More than 730 million people use Ant’s Alipay app every month to pay for lunch, invest their savings and shop on credit. Yet Alipay’s size and importance have made it an inevitable target for China’s regulators, which have already brought its business to heel in certain areas.

These days, Ant talks mostly about creating partnerships with big banks, not disrupting or supplanting them. Several government-owned funds and institutions are Ant shareholders and stand to profit handsomely from the public offering.

The question now is how much higher Ant can fly without provoking the Chinese authorities into clipping its wings further.

Excitable investors see Ant as a buzzy internet innovator. The risk is that it becomes more like a heavily regulated “financial digital utility,” said Fraser Howie, the co-author of “Red Capitalism: The Fragile Financial Foundation of China’s Extraordinary Rise.”

“Utility stocks, as far as I remember, were not the ones to be seen as the most exciting,” Mr. Howie said.

Ant declined to comment, citing the quiet period demanded by regulators before its share sale.

The company has played give-and-take with Beijing for years. As smartphone payments became ubiquitous in China, Ant found itself managing huge piles of money in Alipay users’ virtual wallets. The central bank made it park those funds in special accounts where they would earn minimal interest.

After people piled into an easy-to-use investment fund inside Alipay, the government forced the fund to shed risk and lower returns. Regulators curbed a plan to use Alipay data as the basis for a credit-scoring system akin to Americans’ FICO scores.

China’s Supreme Court this summer capped interest rates for consumer loans, though it was unclear how the ceiling would apply to Ant. The central bank is preparing a new virtual currency that could compete against Alipay and another digital wallet, the messaging app WeChat, as an everyday payment tool.

Ant has learned ways of keeping the authorities on its side. Mr. Ma once boasted at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, about never taking money from the Chinese government. Today, funds associated with China’s social security system, its sovereign wealth fund, a state-owned life insurance company and the national postal carrier hold stakes in Ant. The I.P.O. is likely to increase the value of their holdings considerably.

“That’s how the state gets its payoff,” Mr. Howie said. With Ant, he said, “the line between state-owned enterprise and private enterprise is highly, highly blurred.”

China, in less than two generations, went from having a state-planned financial system to being at the global vanguard of internet finance, with trillions of dollars in transactions being made on mobile devices each year. Alipay had a lot to do with it.

Alibaba created the service in the early 2000s to hold payments for online purchases in escrow. Its broader usefulness quickly became clear in a country that mostly missed out on the credit card era. Features were added and users piled in. It became impossible for regulators and banks not to see the app as a threat.

ImageAnt Group’s headquarters in Hangzhou, China.
Credit…Alex Plavevski/EPA, via Shutterstock

A big test came when Ant began making an offer to Alipay users: Park your money in a section of the app called Yu’ebao, which means “leftover treasure,” and we will pay you more than the low rates fixed by the government at banks.

People could invest as much or as little as they wanted, making them feel like they were putting their pocket change to use. Yu’ebao was a hit, becoming one of the world’s largest money market funds.

The banks were terrified. One commentator for a state broadcaster called the fund a “vampire” and a “parasite.”

Still, “all the main regulators remained unanimous in saying that this was a positive thing for the Chinese financial system,” said Martin Chorzempa, a research fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington.

“If you can’t actually reform the banks,” Mr. Chorzempa said, “you can inject more competition.”

But then came worries about shadowy, unregulated corners of finance and the dangers they posed to the wider economy. Today, Chinese regulators are tightening supervision of financial holding companies, Ant included. Beijing has kept close watch on the financial instruments that small lenders create out of their consumer loans and sell to investors. Such securities help Ant fund some of its lending. But they also amplify the blowup if too many of those loans aren’t repaid.

“Those kinds of derivative products are something the government is really concerned about,” said Tian X. Hou, founder of the research firm TH Data Capital. Given Ant’s size, she said, “the government should be concerned.”

The broader worry for China is about growing levels of household debt. Beijing wants to cultivate a consumer economy, but excessive borrowing could eventually weigh on people’s spending power. The names of two of Alipay’s popular credit functions, Huabei and Jiebei, are jaunty invitations to spend and borrow.

Huang Ling, 22, started using Huabei when she was in high school. At the time, she didn’t qualify for a credit card. With Huabei’s help, she bought a drone, a scooter, a laptop and more.

The credit line made her feel rich. It also made her realize that if she actually wanted to be rich, she had to get busy.

“Living beyond my means forced me to work harder,” Ms. Huang said.

First, she opened a clothing shop in her hometown, Nanchang, in southeastern China. Then she started an advertising company in the inland metropolis of Chongqing. When the business needed cash, she borrowed from Jiebei.

Online shopping became a way to soothe daily anxieties, and Ms. Huang sometimes racked up thousands of dollars in Huabei bills, which only made her even more anxious. When the pandemic slammed her business, she started falling behind on her payments. That cast her into a deep depression.

Finally, early this month, with her parents’ help, she paid off her debts and closed her Huabei and Jiebei accounts. She felt “elated,” she said.

China’s recent troubles with freewheeling online loan platforms have put the government under pressure to protect ordinary borrowers.

Ant is helped by the fact that its business lines up with many of the Chinese leadership’s priorities: encouraging entrepreneurship and financial inclusion, and expanding the middle class. This year, the company helped the eastern city of Hangzhou, where it is based, set up an early version of the government’s app-based system for dictating coronavirus quarantines.

Such coziness is bound to raise hackles overseas. In Washington, Chinese tech companies that are seen as close to the government are radioactive.

In January 2017, Eric Jing, then Ant’s chief executive, said the company aimed to be serving two billion users worldwide within a decade. Shortly after, Ant announced that it was acquiring the money transfer company MoneyGram to increase its U.S. footprint. By the following January, the deal was dead, thwarted by data security concerns.

More recently, top officials in the Trump administration have discussed whether to place Ant Group on the so-called entity list, which prohibits foreign companies from purchasing American products. Officials from the State Department have suggested that an interagency committee, which also includes officials from the departments of defense, commerce and energy, review Ant for the potential entity listing, according to three people familiar with the matter.

Ant does not talk much anymore about expanding in the United States.

Ana Swanson contributed reporting.

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