Do you have an exercise routine that you love? Whether it’s swimming, running, yoga or a team sport, a regular exercise routine can not only keep you in shape but improve brain health, decrease the risk of disease, strengthen bones and muscles, keep all functions of the body in better condition and improve your ability to do everyday activities.
When the weather is warm it’s nice to get outside but when it’s raining or the air quality isn’t its best, a gym is a great place to stay consistent with your workout routine. Many people even find that a gym offers consistency that means you are more likely to exercise at all and find that working out in a group adds just the right amount of peer pressure to help keep you in shape. Spin classes, aerobics or Zumba, people turn to music for extra motivation. Music with a high tempo and inspiring melody will keep you and everyone else in the group moving, grooving, burning calories and building muscles. However, if you are not mindful it could also result in permanent hearing loss! When the volume is very loud, even a 30-minute workout session can damage your hearing.
Dangerous Decibels Levels
The loudness or pressure of sound is measured in decibels (dBA) and any sound over 85 dBA creates enough pressure to damage the tiny hairlike cells of your inner ear which send sound information to your brain. As these cells become damaged or destroyed your hearing can progressively become worse, so it is important to be aware of your everyday exposure—even when staying in shape. While you may build muscle and feel great during your exercise routine, in the long run, hearing loss can result in lasting impacts on how you communicate, the strength of your relationships, cognitive health, emotional well-being and mobility.
It’s important to understand that it is not just the level of sound you need to look out for but the length of exposure. At 85 dBA damage occurs after 8 hours of constant exposure. You can interrupt your risk of damage by taking breaks from listening. However, as the decibels rise the time it takes for damage to occur reduces quickly. In fact, for every increase of three decibels, the exposure time is cut in half! At 88 dBA it takes 4 hours, and at 91 dBA it takes 2. For those of us who work out in gymnasiums with walls that bounce sound and echo, the high energy music from exercise class can reach 100 dBA! That is loud enough to damage your hearing in around 15 minutes—which means a 30-minute workout routine may damage your inner ear a bit more every time you attend.
How You Can Stay Safe
People love music as an added motivation; however, you can stay safe by turning down the volume. If you love an exercise class with loud music and it keeps you moving, that is important for your overall health. Just remember that turning down the volume a bit can make a huge difference for your hearing health and won’t even necessarily you’re your workout less intense. Even when the volume is turned down to safe levels you can still use music as a tool to increase your energy and enthusiasm. In a study by Ronna Hertzano, MD, PhD, at the University of Maryland School of Medicine it was found that there isn’t even much of a connection between how hard you work out, and the volume of your music.
“Our findings make a strong case for reducing music volumes in fitness classes to protect against hearing loss without sacrificing the intensity of the workout,” says Hertzano. “In fact, our study participants reported that they preferred the reduced sound level during their workouts.”
What you Can Do
Talk to your instructor about turning down the volume to no more than 60 percent of the total volume. This will ensure that not only your ears are safe but everyone else in class! However, if this isn’t an option and you love your workout class, you can always wear earplugs. Earplugs can reduce the decibel level anywhere from 15 to 33 dBA depending on the model and fit.
Hearing loss is permanent, but the good news is that it is very treatable. If you suspect you have a hearing loss, we have solutions to keep you alert and healthy for years to come. Contact us today to find out more!