Hitting the gym is a good thing, right? Few would argue with the notion that physical fitness should be a routine component of your health regimen. Regular exercise promotes weight loss and contributes to better overall physical and mental health. But certain types of exercise can have unintended negative impacts in other areas of your health, such as your hearing.
The Hazards of Spinning
If you’re like many people in southeastern Pennsylvania, you’ve probably been to a spin class or two. After all, surveys show that spinning is one of the most popular fitness classes not only in Pennsylvania, but across the country, as well. And for good reason: indoor cycling provides an intense cardio workout that burns calories like crazy – up to 600 an hour. In a group setting it’s a fun way to pedal away daily stress, especially with the loud, thumping music that accompanies most spin classes. But that very music can be harmful to your ears, offsetting the good you’re doing to the rest of your body.
The problem lies in the volume levels. Most spin class instructors like to crank up the volume in order to motivate their students into getting their legs pumping harder and faster. Any noise that exceeds 85 decibels (dB) is hazardous to your hearing; studies indicate the average noise level in a spin class is about 113 dB. Exposure to sounds this loud can cause permanent hearing damage in as little as 15 minutes. Consider that the average spin class lasts anywhere from 40 to 60 minutes, and the scope of the problem becomes clear.
Spinning isn’t the only fitness routine that can damage your ears. Any class that incorporates loud music – think aerobics, for example – puts you at risk for irreversible hearing loss. Even noisy gyms with clanking weights and row upon row of motorized treadmills, Stairmasters, and stationery bikes can be a hazard, especially during peak workout hours.
Protecting Your Hearing During a Workout
The old adage, “the best way to prevent a problem is to avoid it,” doesn’t really apply to spinning and other fitness routines for the simple fact that exercise is good. Sure, preserving your hearing is important, but if you develop cardiovascular disease due to inactivity, you’re likely to shave years off your life anyway. The sharpest hearing in the world won’t matter then! Fortunately, you can have your cake and eat it, too. And then work it off afterwards. Taking steps to protect your ears during spinning and other potentially hazardous workout routines is one sure way to break the cycle of hearing loss.
Don’t be afraid to ask the instructor to turn the volume down during your class. They may object, but it’s worth a shot. If the music is still too loud, a pair of earplugs should help keep noise down to a safe level. Custom plugs made from molds of your ear canals work best; you’ll enjoy a comfortable, snug fit, and there will be very little noise leakage. Unsure just how loud the music is? A number of free apps that measure sound levels are available to download to your smartphone. Even if they aren’t 100 percent accurate, they should be close enough to give you a good idea when it’s time to put in your earplugs.
For other tips on protecting your hearing during workouts, talk to your audiologist at one of our many locations today!