How Exercise Can Affect Your Hearing Health

Disease & Symptom Information, Conditions & Care, Treatments, Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT)
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March 04, 2024
How Exercise Can Affect Your Hearing Health

We all know that regular physical activity is an essential part of a healthy and active lifestyle, especially as we age. Research has shown that it may also improve your hearing health. 

Aging Puts Us At Greater Risk for Hearing Loss 

While hearing loss can occur at any age, it becomes more common the older we get. According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), “Nearly 25% of those aged 65 to 74 and 50% of those who are 75 and older have disabling hearing loss.”

Many factors can play a role in whether you develop hearing loss as you age, including genetic factors and spending a lot of time working in a loud environment. The amount of regular exercise a person gets also plays a role.  

Less Time Exercising Correlated with Hearing Loss Risk

A study published in 2021 examined the exercise habits of 291 adults between the ages of 60-69 to see if there was any association between physical activity and hearing loss. They found that when compared to those with normal hearing, participants who had hearing loss: 

  • Engaged in less physical activity, whether light, moderate or vigorous 
  • Spent more time engaging in sedentary behaviors 

Why This Happens

Permanent sensorineural hearing loss (which is the kind caused by older age) happens when the hair cells of the inner ear become damaged. This damage can happen for a number of reasons. However, one possible cause is that blood flow to the inner ear gets disrupted. This is more likely to occur in people who have conditions like heart disease and diabetes, which are linked to a lack of physical activity, among other factors. 

Additionally, regular physical exercise can improve overall blood flow, keeping your ears and other vital organs healthy. 

Exercise Options

The good news is that there are many ways to fit regular activities that you enjoy into your day. Some options to consider include: 

  • Yoga 
  • Tai Chi 
  • Walking 
  • Hiking 
  • Gardening 
  • Taking a fitness class at a gym or local community center 

Whatever you decide, aim to get physical activity of 30 minutes a day, five days a week. 

When to See a Hearing Specialist

As mentioned, many factors can contribute to developing hearing loss. While exercise can improve your hearing health, it doesn’t make you immune from hearing loss. If you start noticing that sounds seem muffled, conversations become hard to follow or that you need to turn up the television louder than you used to, visit the TriHealth Audiology page to find a qualified audiologist near you. 

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