Could your workout routine contribute to hearing loss?

When you’re turning up the effort on a workout, be cautious about how high you crank up the volume on your playlist. Your workout routine could be inadvertently hurting your hearing over time.

Researchers say half of people between 12-35 are at risk of hearing loss due in part to exposure to loud sounds, including music pumped through personal audio devices. It’s already a problem among older people, with the condition now experienced by one-third of Americans between 64 and 75.

Worth noting: You can develop hearing loss before you even notice the problem. Once it happens, you can’t reverse it and treatment becomes the best option. Importantly, in many cases, noise-induced hearing loss can be prevented.

Consider these tips that may help protect your hearing health

1. Follow the 60–60 rule for listening

Headphones and earbuds can produce sounds up to 110 decibels, which is like the blare of a live rock concert. At that level, hearing loss can occur after only a few minutes. To help reduce your risk, consider following the 60–60 rule. That means limiting listening to 60 minutes a day at just 60% of the device’s maximum volume. On some devices, you can set this as a custom limit.

2. Invest in helpful technology

Health clubs are often loud places, prompting some people to increase the volume on their personal music devices to drown out background noise. Instead, consider opting for noise-canceling earbuds or over-the-ear headphones, which may help reduce background noise. Some smartphones now include “safe listening” features, including software that tracks the level and duration of exposure to sound.

3. Exercise without music

While working out and music may seem like they go hand in hand, there can be advantages to turning off the workout playlist to focus on your form or take in the natural sounds around you. Quiet time may offer benefits for both your mind and body:  

  • Lower blood pressure
  • Decreased heart rate
  • Steadied breathing
  • Reduced muscle tension
  • Increased focus and cognition

Beyond the workout

Avoid noisy places whenever possible and protect your ears when you can’t. Consider using over-the-counter foam ear plugs or ones that can be custom molded to protect your hearing at concerts, sports games and other loud venues. If you suspect you may have hearing loss, consider using an online hearing test to determine if care and treatment may be necessary, including hearing aids.

You may have heard

Some hearing aids are now sold without a prescription after a new federal rule created a category of over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aids. People with self-diagnosed, mild to moderate hearing loss have the option to buy OTC devices without a prescription or fitting adjustment by a hearing health professional. Despite the new rule, UnitedHealthcare Hearing recommends people interested in hearing aids start with a hearing exam with a licensed hearing care professional.

Millions of AARP members can now purchase prescription and OTC hearing aids for as low as $699 per device through AARP® Hearing Solutions™ by UnitedHealthcare Hearing.1 This price is significantly lower than prescription hearing aids available through traditional provider or retail channels, based on suggested manufacturer pricing, and includes a no-cost hearing exam and support from a licensed hearing care professional.

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