Taking care of your body is undoubtedly important, but safeguarding your hearing is equally crucial. According to a report from the American survey site FiveThirtyEight, the top three New Year's resolutions are: losing weight, exercising, and becoming a better person.
As you hit the gym, moving towards a stronger and more energetic version of yourself with the dynamic rhythm of music, there's a key aspect often overlooked: noise protection.
You might not even be aware of this issue because the entire gym is filled with powerful music and the loud commands of trainers. However, these sounds often exceed safe decibel levels and can cause damage to your hearing.
A recent study focused on gyms found that whether it's aerobic exercise or indoor cycling, the volume exceeds 80 decibels. Despite the boost in mood and energy due to melody and rhythm, extended exposure to such environments can potentially impact both trainers and participants' hearing to varying degrees.
What is noise-induced hearing loss?
In a survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) involving adults aged 20 to 69, researchers found that 40 million Americans experienced noise-induced hearing loss in one or both ears. Surprisingly, over half of them reported that the noise didn't come from their workplaces but from everyday life.
Prolonged exposure to noisy environments can damage the cells in the cochlea and auditory nerves, potentially leading to noise-induced hearing loss.
Be cautious: Once hearing loss occurs due to noise exposure, the process is irreversible. Remember: protecting your hearing can help prevent hearing loss.
Here are four tips to help you sweat it out at the gym while protecting your precious hearing. Grab hold of both your New Year's health and hearing health!
Understand the Noise Level
Pay attention to the noise level in your gym so you can determine when or if you need to take hearing protection measures. According to CDC data, safe noise exposure levels are:
- 85 decibels for no more than 8 hours
- 88 decibels for no more than 4 hours
- 91 decibels for no more than 2 hours
- 94 decibels for no more than 1 hour
- 97 decibels for no more than 30 minutes
- 100 decibels for no more than 15 minutes
So, what's the noise level in the gym? A study cited in the 'Noise & Health' journal indicates that the noise level in group fitness classes at the gym typically exceeds 90 decibels, even reaching levels similar to rock concerts or jackhammers.
Wear Hearing Protection Devices
Wearing hearing protection devices in the gym is a great way to shield your hearing from excessive noise. Consider using noise-canceling earplugs and protective earmuffs to physically block sound waves, reducing the decibels entering your ears and potential hearing damage.
Limit Exposure Time
Conduct a noise test in the gym ahead of time. Visit the gym multiple times to understand if the volume is safe.
If the sound is indeed too loud, adjust by taking breaks. For example, take a break during a class. When you need to drink water or wipe off sweat, step outside to give your ears a rest. Also, try to find a spot as far away from the speakers as possible to limit noise exposure.
Advocate for Hearing Health
If you notice excessive noise in the gym, consider talking to the trainer or gym manager. If you can clearly sense that the volume is too high, it's likely others feel the same way.
Experiencing hearing issues?
Consult a hearing professional promptly!
If you notice changes in your hearing or experience ringing or swelling in your ears for more than 24 hours, consult a licensed hearing specialist.
Hearing professionals can conduct a hearing test, assess whether noise-induced hearing loss (or other types of hearing loss) has occurred, and help you choose an appropriate hearing intervention plan.
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