How your New Year’s resolutions may be hurting your hearing

How your New Year’s resolutions may be hurting your hearing
By: UnitedHealthcare Last Updated: February 12, 2020

You may have gotten into a healthy pattern of working out at the gym as part of your New Year’s resolution — but while you are turning up the heat on your workouts, be cautious of how high you turn up the volume in your earbuds.

Consistent exposure to loud sounds from everyday activities has contributed to an increase in kids and teens experiencing some degree of hearing loss. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that more than 1.1 billion young people are at risk of developing hearing problems – citing loud music through the use of personal audio devices, such as smartphones, as a key contributing factor. 

You should consider being conscientious about exposure to high-decibel noises in all settings, but the gym may present several potentially overlooked sources of loud sounds. Consider these three tips to help maintain your hearing health during and after your next gym visit: 

1. Turn down the volume
Health clubs can be loud and energetic places. This may prompt you to crank up the volume on your music but prolonged use of earbuds – especially at high volume – may damage your hearing. Earbuds typically sit deeper in the ear canal than traditional over-the-ear headphones, thus putting hearing follicles at greater risk of damage

The average earbuds at 100% volume on a smartphone can reach noise levels of 120 decibels, which may lead to hearing loss after only an hour and 15 minutes of exposure. Consider following the 60/60 rule, which means limiting earbuds to 60 minutes at a time at 60% of the device’s maximum volume. 

2. Plug your ears during fitness classes
Fitness classes such as cycling or cross training are great ways to stay motivated, and working out in a group may offer additional benefits compared to going solo. But high-intensity fitness classes often play music exceeding 90-100 decibels, which is a level that can contribute to hearing loss over time. The risk is even greater for fitness class instructors due to consistent exposure.

Check to see if your club provides free foam earplugs or consider bringing a reusable pair to help provide protection. When selecting your spot for class, look for locations as far away from the speakers as possible.

3. Prioritize post-workout recovery
Eating a balanced diet is an important component to a successful fitness regimen. Loading up on healthy foods, like fruits and vegetables, may also play a role on your hearing health. Foods rich in potassiumzinc and folate– such as bananas, almonds and spinach – may provide important nutrients to help maintain your hearing health as you age. 

Consistent exercise is important to maintaining physical and mental well-being. By considering these tips, you may reap the potential health benefits of exercise while reducing the risk of noise-induced hearing loss. 

For more information about how to help protect your hearing health, visit uhchearing.com.