Over the past few years, people have become increasingly aware of hearing health, particularly in relation to listening to loud music. Concerts are obviously one place that has the potential for high sound levels and hearing loss, and more people than ever are now wearing hearing protection there. Another potential problem area is loud workout music that gets played either via gym speakers or in people’s headphones. Spin and crossfit classes that aim to energize their audience can be frequent culprits, and these workout classes are rapidly growing in popularity.
We totally get the reason individuals and gyms usually do this: listening to loud music can help you get pumped up, creates extra energy, and may actually result in a better and more pleasant workout. But it’s ironic that the same activity that’s helping people get healthier could be detrimental to another aspect of their bodies: their hearing. I always say “people are trying to get healthy but they are hurting their ears and making them unhealthy”.
A lot of the time, it may not even seem like you’re listening to music at excessive levels, because our ears get used to sound levels over time. So, if your workout mix starts out a bit slow and then kicks in at full blast, you may not even notice that you’re turning the volume louder and louder throughout your workout. What may seem natural to you during the workout itself could be something you’d consider deafening if you were to hear it all of a sudden without the gradual ramp-up.
So, while we like to encourage our patients to work out as much as possible, here are 4 tips for protecting your hearing during your workouts:
- Set a reasonable volume level and stay there — be conscious of the fact that you may want to turn up the music as you get “in the zone”, but resist that temptation.
- In class, don’t be afraid to speak up — if you’re paying for a class, it’s OK to request the music be turned down a bit. If you don’t want to interrupt the class, you can always wait until the end and then ask the instructor to make an adjustment for next time.
- Bring earplugs — some classes do have earplugs for volume-sensitive customers, but few people take advantage of these. To ensure you’re never without, bring some with you. Earplugs are actually a great thing to keep in your car in general, because you never know when you may encounter a noisy environment.
- Educate others — it’s always easy to forget that not everyone may be as well-informed about hearing loss as you are. As you go about your workouts, if you find an opportunity to educate someone who may be at risk for hearing loss, don’t be afraid to speak up. (One way to tell? If you can hear what they’re listening to in their headphones from a few steps away, it’s too loud and probably causing hearing loss.) You may be doing them a huge favor by helping them protect their hearing.
We hope these few simple tips will help keep your ears as health as the rest of your body when you’re getting a good workout at the gym. Questions or comments? Get in touch with us!