Exercise is Good for Your Hearing Health!
Let’s talk about exercise. You know you should be exercising, but you put off your regular workout for all sorts of reasons. Maybe it’s raining, you’re feeling a bit under the weather, or you just can’t be bothered to drive to the gym. Regular exercise is extremely important for your overall health, from weight management to reducing your chances of developing diabetes or heart problems. Your daily exercise routine will boost your mood, increase your energy, help you sleep better, and keep you mobile, so you’ll be able to chase your grandkids around the yard regardless of your age.
There’s now another reason to make it to the gym every week. Your hearing health! Did you know that regular exercise is important for your hearing, and could even prevent hearing loss?
Age Related Hearing Loss
Age related hearing loss is one of the most common kinds of hearing loss, and can affect anyone. As you age, your chances of developing hearing loss increase, since the hair cells in your inner ear don’t work quite like they used to. In fact, over half of seniors over the age of 75 will struggle with hearing loss as the auditory system wears down.
The Research on Hearing Loss and Exercise
A recent study by the University of Florida, published in the Journal of Neuroscience, shows that regular exercise can prevent, or at least significantly slow, age related hearing loss. Researchers looked at the auditory system of mice, comparing mice who exercised with those who didn’t. While active mice had healthy hearing, the mice who didn’t exercise had a lot more damage in their ears.
Sedentary mice had far fewer working hair cells, the fragile cells deep in the ear that translate sound waves from the environment into electrical impulses that can be interpreted by the brain. They had far fewer spiral ganglion, the nerve cells that send the sound signals from the ear to brain. Blood flow to the ears was also reduced, meaning the ears weren’t getting enough oxygen to stay healthy. The active mice lost these cells as a much slower rate, and had clear hearing for far longer. In total, about 20% of the sedentary mice had hearing loss, while 95% of the active mice had healthy hearing.
Research with Humans and Hearing
The John Hopkins University recently studied hearing loss and exercise, and they also found that regular exercise can prevent hearing loss! Seniors who were active around 3 hours a week had far lower rates of hearing loss than seniors who didn’t exercise at all. That’s only 25 minutes of activity a day, and many of the seniors weren’t doing anything more strenuous than taking a daily walk.
How does Exercise Protect Hearing?
As you age, inflammation can damage hair cells, nerve cells, and capillaries, so your ears won’t be working well, or even getting enough oxygen. When you exercise, your body is protected against age-related inflammation, and cardiovascular health is improved, which keeps blood circulating throughout your body and your ears. Exercising every day improves hearing health, and protects against age-related hearing loss.
What Exercises Should You be Doing?
At the end of the day, all exercise is good exercise. Whether it’s walking to work a couple times a week, taking the dog to the park, gardening, housework, playing in the yard with the grandchildren, swimming, or hitting the gym, the more active you are the healthier you’ll be, and you will be protecting your hearing for years to come.
To get the most bang for your buck, high intensity interval training, or HIIT, classes are a really effective form of exercise. You can do this with any type of workout, and it just means that you will have some strenuous exercise followed by less strenuous activity. For example, if you walk for exercise, you can alternate fast walking and slow walking, or even jogging with walking. This means you’ll get more benefits from exercise in less time. The important thing though is to stay active, and keep exercising.
A Word of Warning
We recommend that you don’t exercise with headphones or earbuds, as these can easily cause noise induced hearing loss, and will damage the hair cells in your ears from exposure to loud noise played too close to your ears. If you still want to exercise with music in the room, make sure the volume stays at safe levels. The same goes for classes at the gym with loud music, such as spin.
Also, if you have experienced physical or medical issues, consult with your physician before pursuing a new form of exercise. If you struggle with hearing loss, visit the My Hearing Centers location nearest you to find out how to improve your hearing health.