If you’re like many people in Lexington, you’ve made a new year’s resolution or two. Perhaps you want to drop a few pounds and are vowing to eat more broccoli and take up an exercise regimen. We certainly applaud your efforts but joining a gym can have unintended negative consequences. Certain exercises could actually be harmful to your hearing!
The Hazards of Spinning
One of the most popular fitness classes in Lexington, and across the country, is spinning. There are many benefits to indoor cycling: you’ll get an intense cardio workout that burns up to 600 calories an hour – enough to melt away the pounds you might have piled on after a steady diet of cookies and eggnog last month. The problem with this group activity lies in the loud music that most instructors play during class. It may be a great way to motivate you to pedal harder, but it’s not doing your ears any favors.
Anything louder than 85 decibels (dB) can damage the tiny hair cells in your inner ear, causing irreversible hearing loss. The louder the sound, the less safe exposure time you have before permanent damage sets in. Volume levels in a typical spin class hover around 113 dB, enough to cause hearing damage after a mere 15 minutes. Considering that the average spin class lasts between 40-60 minutes, it’s apparent that pedaling your way to good health might not be worth the tradeoff.
Hearing hazards in the gym aren’t confined to spinning. Any fitness class that incorporates loud music, such as aerobics, poses similar risks. Clanking weights, motorized treadmills, rowing machines, Stairmasters – all add to the overall noisy atmosphere inherent in any fitness center. If it’s big enough and crowded – as it inevitably will be these first few weeks of the new year while those resolutions are still fresh in everybody’s minds – you could be hurting your hearing, too.
How to Burn Calories Without Damaging Your Hearing
Just because noisy gyms can potentially damage your hearing doesn’t give you an excuse to avoid exercise. There are too many positive health benefits to justify skipping your workouts! The key is to do so safely.
If you’re taking a spinning or aerobics class and the music is too loud, ask your instructor to turn it down. In case they overrule you, bring along a pair of earplugs. Custom silicone plugs created from molds of your ear canals work best, but even an inexpensive pair of foam plugs purchased from the drugstore will provide you with protection from damaging decibel levels. If you’re not into group workouts, try going to the gym when it’s least crowded; fewer people = less noise.
Your Lexington audiologist can give you additional tips on working out safely without risking your hearing.