Could Exercise Harm Your Hearing Health?

“When it comes to health and well-being, regular exercise is about as close to a magic potion as you can get.”
-Tich Nhat Hanh
Throughout history, exercise has been embraced for improving health. These days, the benefits of exercise are splashed across headlines almost every day. It can help improve cardiovascular health, reduce the risk of cancer, improve brain health and ward off obesity and diabetes. It’s been linked to a sense of well-being and so many other benefits that are hard to ignore.
Experts recommend getting “at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity a week, or a combination of moderate and vigorous activity” plus, “strength training exercises for all major muscle groups at least two times a week.”
It’s hard to imagine a downside to physical activity, but there could be when it comes to hearing health and tinnitus.
Could exercise cause hearing loss?
While it may not be the first thing you think of when you lace up your sneakers for a workout, protecting your hearing health may require some extra attention along with your muscles.

  • Pumping up the pressure – If you’ve ever noticed a clogged feeling or ringing in your ears during or after your workout, you’re not imagining things. As you exert yourself to get in those reps on the weights or hit your best time yet on the treadmill, the pressure is building in your head and ears. In some cases, this can even cause a small tear of the membrane in the ear known as a perilymphatic fistula (PLF). This tear can lead to a fluid leak, which in turn may cause tinnitus or dizziness.
  • Turning up the volume – Are you a regular at the gym or do you prefer to pop in your earbuds and train on your own? Either way, music volume may be damaging your hearing. Gyms generally keep the music volume high to be heard over the various machines, weights and competing class music. On our own, we may turn up the volume higher than usual to be heard over the machine we’re on, the pounding of our own feet on the pavement or the muffling of our clogged ears.
  • Slamming those weights – Even trying to find a quieter corner in the weight training area of the gym may come with some ear-blasting noise thanks to the crash of slamming and dropping weights.

Being mindful of the potential impact on your hearing when you exercise can go a long way in protecting your hearing health.
How to protect your hearing during exercise
Exercise is too beneficial to give up in favor of hearing health! Instead, stick to the recommendations for weekly aerobic and weight training and follow these tips to help prevent hearing loss:

  • Push for benefits, but to help avoid building up damaging pressure, don’t over-exert yourself during exercise.
  • Breath through exercise and weight lifting moves to help avoid strain.
  • Consider wearing earplugs at the gym to help reduce noise exposure from machines, music and dropped weights.
  • Carefully monitor the volume of your music when using earbuds and other headphones.
  • Get regular hearing evaluations to monitor your hearing health, especially if you notice changes that are related to exercise.

Don’t sacrifice your hearing health for the benefits of exercise. Follow these tips to make both a priority.
If you believe you’re experiencing hearing loss, contact our office to schedule a hearing evaluation.

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