Making Moves for Hearing Health
Search “Top 10 New Year’s resolutions” and what are you sure to find? Lists that often start with “fitness” or “exercise.” With benefits from better skin and stronger bones to weight loss, improved mental health, and more, it’s no wonder that exercise pops up as a perennial New Year’s resolution favorite!
But did you know? Exercise can also help prevent hearing impairment.
So if you or your loved ones are kicking off the new year with physical fitness goals in sight, keep in mind these four tips for better hearing health:
1. Exercise May Delay Age-Related Hearing Loss
An estimated one of every three adults between ages 65 and 74 lives with hearing impairment, per the National Institute on Deafness and Communication Disorders, making it a common health challenge among seniors. Research, however, shows that exercise can stave off age-related hearing loss (AHL). One relatively recent study using mice, for example, found that “regular exercise slowed AHL” and deterioration of the cochlea, the part of the inner ear that detects sound.
2. What Helps Your Heart Helps Your Ears
People with heart disease, a leading cause of death worldwide, are 54 percent more likely to experience hearing loss. Research shows, however, that individuals entering their 50s with good cardiovascular health have better hearing than their counterparts with poor cardiovascular fitness. Just “30 minutes a day, five times a week” of moderate or vigorous exercise can help cut the risk of heart disease, per the American Heart Association, and it doesn’t have to be hard: “The simplest positive change you can make to effectively improve your heart health is to start walking.”
3. Brainpower Is Hearing Power
Ears are vital to hearing, but the brain does the heavy lifting — recognizing sound, using ears to help orient the body, and separating desired sounds from competing noise. Studies show that exercise supports brain health. Wrote Harvard Health Blog’s executive editor: “The benefits of exercise come directly from its ability to reduce insulin resistance, reduce inflammation, and stimulate the release of growth factors — chemicals in the brain that affect the health of brain cells, the growth of new blood vessels in the brain, and even the abundance and survival of new brain cells.”
4. Less Noise Makes a Big Difference
Whether kickboxing to the latest beats at the gym or hitting the walking trail with your MP3 player, getting the most out of a hearing-healthy workout includes protecting your ears from excess noise — the most preventable cause of hearing loss. Wear quality earplugs and keep a good distance from speakers in group exercise classes, where music volumes can reach well above the danger threshold of 85 decibels. If using an MP3 player or other personal music device, remember to turn it at least halfway down or lower from full volume.