Advice and Tips

Could your exercise routine cause hearing loss?

Maintaining a balanced diet is important for living a healthy lifestyle, with benefits of lowered risk of heart disease, controlling weight and fuelling the body ready to take on the day. One important ingredient in this mix is exercise.

However, recent findings suggest that pushing yourself too hard while exercising can contribute to poor hearing.

Healthy body, unhealthy hearing? 

Thankfully, it seems that the country is an active bunch –  59 per cent of Australians aged over 15 participate in sport related physical activity three or more times per week, according to the Australian Sports Commission1. One exercise activity maintaining its popularity is CrossFit with 575 studios in Australia alone.

Famed for its ability to rapidly build muscle and endurance, the high-impact exercises involved are bringing disadvantages to some, as well as 'gains.' 

Lifting heavy weights is a common practice in CrossFit , but straining and holding your breath when doing so can cause excess pressure within the brain (intracranial pressure), which then builds up within the ears2. This not only causes discomfort, it can also increase the risk of a hearing impairment – a result of perilymphatic fistula (PLF). A PLF is a small tear in the thin membrane that allows fluid to leak into the middle ear.

Is your hearing suffering while working out?Are you looking after your hearing while working out?

Get into shape and out of the groove

The second most participated physical activity in Australia is fitness classes, with 17.4 per cent of the population attending the energetic and motivational groups, according to Fitness Australia3. The loud, thumping music helps to build motivation in individuals, but researchers from George Mason University have discovered that these high levels of noise are doing us more harm than good.

From their findings, participants of spinning classes were exposed to decibel (dB) levels of 100 plus which is well above the guideline of 85 dB. This increased noise level only raises the risk of hearing damage.

17. 4 per cent of the Australian population attend fitness classes regularly.

Three easy ways you can look after your hearing while exercising

1. Wearing earplugs – Using earplugs while working out can lower noise levels by 15 – 30 dB. If you feel like your gym is still too loud, ask an instructor to turn it down –  there are even apps such as Decibel 10 which can let you know how noisy an environment actually is. 

2. Keep your hearing aids dry – Moisture can damage the intricate and technical circuits within hearing aids so if you're a wearer, simply take them out when swimming or partaking in other water-based activities.

3. Wear a head band – Even on dry land, it's important to keep hearing aids dry. Wearing a headband is an effective way to keep moisture out and it can also help to keep your devices in place.

If you are worried about your hearing, contact the team at Adelaide Digital Hearing Solutions on 1800 940 982 or click here to book your hearing assessment at no cost*.

1Australian Sports Commission, Participation data for the sport sector. Accessed September 2017
2Healthy Hearing, Could your exercise program be causing hearing loss? Accessed September 2017
3Fitness Australia, Profile of the Fitness Industry in Australia. Accessed September 2017

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