A Possible Link Between Exercise & Reduced Risk for Hearing Loss

A Possible Link Between Exercise & Reduced Risk for Hearing Loss

Do you like to exercise? It can be difficult to start a routine but once you do, you can enjoy all the benefits such as reducing your risk of heart diseases, managing blood sugar levels, improving mental health, keeping your thinking, learning, and judgment skills sharp as you age, improving quality of sleep and reducing risks of falls. Now a recent study is finding that exercise could also lower your risk for hearing loss!

The Importance of Normal Hearing

Many people prioritize physical and mental health while not understanding how hearing loss is connected to this. Hearing is an important sense which keeps us connected to the world. When we can hear healthy, we are able to connect to the people in our life, fostering strong and supportive relationships. This extends to professional success and over all self-confidence and mood. 

A Suspected Connection Between Exercise and Hearing

The most common type of hearing loss is called sensorineural and occurs when tiny hair like cells called stereocilia become damaged. The stereocilia are the sole delivery system of audio waves to the brain. Damage to the stereocilia can occur from a great many causes including exposure to excessively loud noise, impact to the head, infection, exposure to ototoxic chemicals, and even changes to the ear as we age. Another common cause of damage to the stereocilia is lack of circulation. The inner ear relies on a healthy supply of oxygenated blood to maintain cell health. Researchers believe that an added benefit to exercise may be helping blood to reach the inner ear, feeding, and protecting the stereocilia. 

Exercise & Hearing Loss Through the Ears of Mice

Researchers have been exploring a link between exercise and the health benefits to hearing. In a 2016 study by Journal of Neuroscience, experts safely examined and tested mice to determine the different hearing capabilities of mice who were primarily sedentary as opposed to those that exercised. They chose mice as subjects because the structure of mice and human ears have similarities, though mice can hear higher frequencies. The study’s findings displayed clearly that the hearing structures of mice who were less active were negatively affected, causing damage to the tiny stereocilia as well as strial capillaries which are responsible for delivering oxygen to the entire auditory system. 

Researchers determined that the mice who were less active had fewer spiral ganglion – the nerve cells responsible for sending the sound signals from the ear to the brain. When compared to mice who exercised, these sedentary mice experienced an average of 20% hearing loss over within their lifetime.

Mice who Exercise

The mice who exercised had a much lower risk of hearing loss. Active mice were recorded as having a mere 5% hearing loss, meaning that 95% of the mice had healthy hearing. It seems that regular exercise in mice lowered the effects of inflammation that accompanies aging mice allowing clearing hearing for years to come.

Healthy Hearing Habits During Exercise

It can be hard to start the habit of regular exercise but once you do you will start to experience all sorts of benefits. You’ll have improved strength balance and dexterity as well as improved mood and a greater chance your hearing will stay clear for years to come. What is important is to find a type of exercise that fits in with your lifestyle. If possible, try biking, jogging, or walking to work and appointments. You can also try to carve out a time of day just for you to get active, while others may find it motivating to work out with friends. Just make sure that when you exercise you practice safe listening practices. Many people find that they enjoy music to help them stay motivated when exercising. Make sure you keep the listening level to no higher than 60% of the potential volume and take listening breaks.

Schedule a Hearing Exam

If you suspect that you have a hearing loss, it’s important that you don’t let it go untreated. Unaddressed hearing loss can impede mobility and reduce awareness of an individual’s environment. If ignored for too long it’s common for people to become less axctive, be less independent and less likely to try new things. Stay active with hearing loss that’s being treated. Schedule a hearing exam with us today.