There’s no question that exercise is great for your general health. Not only does staying active help you to maintain a healthy weight and a healthy heart, but it can also reduce stress and promote better sleep. Overall, the positive effects of staying in shape contribute to increasing your likelihood of living a longer life, which is something we all hope for.
But did you know that working out can also help you to hear better?
Generally speaking, by improving your overall physical health with exercise, you are more likely to maintain better hearing health. To keep hearing your best in the years to come, let’s explore how hitting the gym from time to time can keep your body and hearing in tip-top condition.
4 Ways Exercise Improves Your Hearing
The most apparent benefits of exercise include the ability to build muscle or endurance, but the connection between your hearing and staying fit may be a bit less clear. Think about it this way: Just as our different body systems work together, our ears work with several other parts of our body to take in and process the sounds around us. So, by keeping the other parts of your body in working order, you can benefit your ears as well.
Here are just four of the ways that exercise can improve how your body functions and, in turn, how your ears function.
1. A healthy weight makes for healthy hearing.
It’s no secret that exercise can help you to maintain a healthy weight, and while most of us know this, many also fail to take advantage of it. As of 2016, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) found that almost half (39.8%) of American adults were overweight. Unfortunately, being overweight can put you at risk for developing type 2 diabetes, which can put you at higher risk for developing hearing loss.
In fact, research has found that diabetics are over 2 times more likely to acquire hearing loss than non-diabetics. The good news is that type 2 diabetes is preventable. By adopting a healthy diet and exercising regularly, you can reduce your weight and prevent, or eradicate, the condition. By doing so, you’ll also reduce your chances of developing hearing loss.
2. Your heart’s health impacts your hearing health.
Being physically active not only helps us to feel better, but it is also key to better cardiovascular (or heart) health. One of the greatest benefits of exercising is that it can help prevent heart-related conditions like heart disease. In addition to being the leading cause of death, heart disease is also a risk factor for hearing loss, as those with the condition are 54% more likely to acquire hearing loss.
Very similar to diabetes prevention, taking up a regular exercise regime can help to reduce your risk of acquiring heart disease or other related conditions. The American Heart Association encourages adults to exercise for at least 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week to keep your heart healthy and actively prevent both heart disease and hearing loss.
3. Better brain health means better hearing health.
Exercise is a great way to keep your heart pumping, as well as maintain proper blood flow to your brain. Here’s why: Your brain partners with your ears to allow you to hear. In simple terms, sound waves enter your ears, travel through your auditory nerves, and into your brain. In this way, your ears act as the receiver, while your brain acts as the processor. But what does that have to do with exercise?
Part of maintaining your brain’s health is participating in physical activity. As explained by Heidi Godman, Executive Editor of the Harvard Health Letter, staying physically active can boost your brain’s “ability to reduce insulin resistance, reduce inflammation, and stimulate the release of growth factors.” In this way, exercising will help to maintain your brain’s health and, as such, your hearing health as well.
4. Staying fit helps you hear your best as you age.
Staying fit is even more critical to those at risk for age-related hearing loss (AHL). As we get older, our age alone acts as a risk factor for losing our ability to hear, but recent research has found that exercise may help to combat the potential negative impacts of age on one’s hearing health. In 2016, the University of Florida conducted a study to determine if long-term exercise can reduce one’s chances of developing AHL.
Findings revealed that regular exercise could, in fact, slow down the progression of AHL by reducing deterioration of the cochlea, a key component to perceiving sound. With this in mind, adopting a long-term routine exercise regime can also help you to hear better as you age.
Better Hearing Tips for Your Exercise Regime
Now that you know the connection between your ears and exercise, you may be wondering what practices you can start incorporating into your daily routine. These are just 3 things to consider:
1. Exercise every day.
As noted, the American Heart Association offers recommends that adults get at least 150 minutes (2.5 hours) of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise per week. The easiest way to achieve this goal is by exercising for 30 minutes each day for 5 days a week. Examples of this type of exercise include activities as simple as brisk walking, gardening, or biking.
If you’re interested in taking your cardiovascular health, and thereby your hearing health, to the next level, you may consider taking your workouts up a notch with vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise. To push your heart rate a bit further, and maybe even break a sweat, consider adding activities like hiking, running, or swimming to your exercise regime.
2. Take up yoga.
To target your ears’ health specifically, you may want to adopt one form of exercise in particular: yoga. Yoga has been found to help prevent, and even reduce, the impacts of hearing loss and tinnitus. By reducing any tension in your neck muscles, certain yoga poses can help to increase the blood and oxygen flow to both your brain and your ears.
According to Dr. Minakshi Welukar, a certified physician and medical writer, yoga is great for preventing and overcoming many ailments, such as diabetes and high blood pressure. For your ears specifically, however, she recommends popular yoga poses, including the tree, lotus, and cobra. To learn more, read her full article on using yoga to combat hearing loss.
3. Turn down your headphones.
These days, it’s commonplace to hit the gym, or even go for a hike, with headphones in our ears. While listening to music can help making working out more enjoyable, sending loud music directly into your ears can negatively affect your ability to hear.
When your ears are exposed to sounds above 85 dB (decibels), you increase your chances of acquiring noise-induced hearing loss. When many of us listen to music on our headphones, the sound level often ranges between a dangerous 95 to 108 dB. To protect your hearing, keep your headphones’ volume to a minimum when exercising.
Are You Having Trouble Hearing?
At Advanced Affordable Hearing, our mission is to help people hear better at a price they can afford. If you, or your loved one, have had trouble communicating with others or hearing the television, you may be experiencing hearing loss. To get a general sense of your loss, visit our Online Hearing Check today.