Exercise is good for your overall health – and your hearing health as well! With certain types of hearing loss linked to issues with the cardiovascular system, regular activity is good for staving off these conditions.
Whether you’re in a group class or working out alone, in the last few minutes of a workout, the right song gives you the power and motivation to keep pushing on to the end. However, new studies show that music at fitness classes could put your hearing at risk. Learn more about the danger of loud music at the gym and noise-induced hearing loss.
Measuring Decibels at the Gym
New studies from George Mason University in Virginia have found that music played during spin class at fitness centers in the US have reached 100 to 110 decibels. For some perspective, the average decibel measurement at a live rock show is 120 decibels – and usually those take place in huge arenas! In a smaller space such as a fitness classroom, the level of damage rises significantly.
All sounds are measured in decibels, and the louder they are, the more permanent damage they can cause. Hearing specialists recommend 85 decibels as the threshold for safety. Sounds that exceed 85 decibels, with over an hour of exposure, could lead to permanent, noise-induced hearing loss.
For fitness centers, the US Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recommends a sound threshold of 85 decibels, for no more than 45 minutes. There is also a correlation between the level of decibels and the amount of exposure time. As sounds increase to 88 decibels, the amount of safe exposure time drops to 23 minutes. When sounds read 117 decibels, 1.7 seconds is an unsafe amount of exposure time.
Most people don’t think of noise-induced hearing loss as a byproduct of working out a gym. Usually, we think about construction sites or airfield operators, or even rock musicians. However, if you’re taking an hour-long fitness class at the gym, you’re probably being exposed to sounds far louder than 85 decibels. If you happen to be a gym instructor, then you’re probably spending a lot more time at the gym and thus, a lot more time exposed to dangerously high levels of sound.
Noise-Induced Hearing Loss
Noise-induced hearing loss is one of the few forms of hearing loss that 100% preventable. Over time, exposure to loud noise damages your inner ear hair cells, which do not regenerate. This leads to noise-induced hearing loss, a form of sensorineural hearing loss.
What can we do to prevent noise-induced hearing loss? It really comes down to a matter of prevention. Hearing specialists recommend carrying a pair of earplugs when you know you’ll be exposed to loud sounds. Step away from the source of noise and give your ears a rest if you have been exposed to extremely loud sounds. It’s important to take action now to prevent hearing loss. As Dr. Leslie Stengert, a health professor from Indiana University, says, “When we see [sounds] at 99 dB or above for more than an hour on a regular basis, there’s a very high risk of hearing loss. Once it’s gone, you’re not getting it back.”
Check Your Earbud Use
When we’re not working out in classes, we may use earbuds to motivate us on the treadmill. The use of earbuds is extremely harmful to our hearing. Earbuds, which sit in the ear canal close to the eardrum, create conditions louder than the volume you see on your devices. The volume level in your ears with positioning of the earbud, combined with a high volume of sound, has been compared to the sounds one would experience while drilling in a coal mine.
To protect your hearing, download apps that control the volume on your phone or iPad. You may also find ones that measure decibels in the environment you’re in, which will encourage you to move to a space that is less taxing on your ears.
Protect Your Hearing
From Hearing Health, here are a few tips to consider when it comes to hearing health and the gym:
- Before joining a gym, test it out a few times to assess the noise level, to make sure it is at an acceptable volume.
- Be an advocate for healthy hearing. Speak to the instructor, the head of fitness classes and the gym manager about noise level if you feel it is too much.
- Get your hearing tested, especially if you have experienced ringing or fullness in your ears for more than 24 hours.
- During exercise classes take precautions like wearing earplugs and positioning yourself as far away from the speakers as possible.
- Rest your ears in between exposure to loud noises
If you’ve experienced changes in your hearing, contact us at Custom Hearing Solutions. Our friendly team is here to help you achieve optimal hearing health!