The Possible Link Between Exercise & Reduced Risk for Hearing Loss

The Possible Link Between Exercise & Reduced Risk for Hearing Loss

In Hearing Health, Hearing Loss by Christa N. Smith, Au.D., CCC-A

Christa N. Smith, Au.D., CCC-A
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Physical activity is linked to a wide range of positive health outcomes. Not only can you strengthen your heart and other muscles, but you can even improve brain functioning through moderate physical activity. When you hear “exercise,” your mind might gravitate to a lengthy and painful session at the gym. Quite the contrary, physical activity can be integrated into your life quite simply with something as easy as a walk down the block. Among the many benefits of exercise, recent research has shown that those with a regular exercise routine might have a lower risk of hearing loss. Let’s unpack this discovery, as well as the ways you can set yourself up for success when it comes to physical activity and your hearing health. 

Cardiovascular Health and Hearing

Research has shown a strong connection between cardiovascular disease and hearing loss. It’s not as simple as one condition causing the other, however. Doctors and medical researchers think that the connection might have to do with the availability of oxygenated blood for the ears to do their work. When the heart and blood vessels are better able to supply oxygen to the cochlea of the inner ear, that oxygen can preserve the functioning of the stereocilia, those tiny hairlike organelles that are sensitive to differences in sound pressure. Cardiovascular disease might be linked to hearing loss through the third factor of de-oxygenated blood. When the blood is not carrying enough oxygen to the ears, either due to a weak heart or clogged blood vessels, the stereocilia can become damaged and unable to detect sound. 

Exercise and Hearing Loss

How might exercise decrease your risk of hearing loss? Different types of exercise can be used to promote a healthy flow of oxygen throughout the body. When you do cardiovascular exercise such as walking, running, biking, or aerobics, you are strengthening your heart muscle’s ability to pump blood. When you do activities that increase lung capacity, including breathing exercises common in yoga, you are also promoting the ability to capture oxygen and send it along to the bloodstream. The most effective exercise routine will be combined with healthy nutrition that prevents clogged arteries and a program of smoking cessation if you are a smoker. As an integrated approach to better health, you might be able to lower your risk of hearing loss, as well. 

How to Get Physical Exercise

As we know, physical exercise doesn’t necessarily entail a trip to the gym. If you enjoy working out, then a gym can be the best place to get access to the equipment you need. However, many of the same exercises can be done at home or around your neighborhood. For heart health, anything that raises you heart rate for 20-30 minutes will be sufficient to improve cardiovascular strength. That accelerated heart rate might come from taking a walk, using the stairs at your office, or parking at the far side of the parking lot when you go to the store. Any way to add a few steps into your daily routine can incorporate a little physical activity into your life. In addition to these simple ways to add physical activity, you can use videos and other online guides to do simple workouts at home. Even a short burst of activity can be enough to get your heart pumping, and you might be more likely to do this activity if you don’t need to make a special trip to the gym, suit up in specialized clothing, and face the gaze of others in that place. If you are interested in getting physical exercise at home, you can begin with a few calisthenics in the morning and a lunchtime walk. 

Though more research is needed on the connection between physical activity and hearing loss, these results are quite promising for those who live an active lifestyle. If you are interested in building an exercise routine, why not enlist help from a friend or loved one? When you work together to get active, you might find that it is a lot of fun to do so! Enjoying physical activity is one of the best ways to build a healthy habit.