Research shows us that exercise promotes a healthy cardiovascular system, which, in turn, can help promote healthy hearing function. There are many benefits that come with regular exercise: good for heart health, maintaining strong muscles and bones, aid in healthy skin, and more. University of Florida researchers conducted a study on mice that suggests exercise may also help prevent age-related hearing loss.
The researchers found that the sedentary mice lost hair cells and strial capillaries, important structures in the auditory system, at a much higher rate than their exercising counterparts. This resulted in a roughly 20 percent hearing loss in sedentary mice compared with a 5 percent hearing loss in active mice. This research also finds that 70 percent of disabling hearing loss in people over 70 is related to the deterioration or loss of these auditory structures.
A Happy Cardiovascular System
When the cardiovascular system—the heart, arteries, and veins—is healthy, the lungs and heart can pump blood more efficiently. This allows more oxygen to get to muscles, organs, and the heart itself. The sedentary body, however, does not provoke the lungs and heart to pump oxygen-rich blood to all of our organ systems in need, including the hearing organs.
The inner ear is extremely sensitive to blood flow, as it is a very small organ system, relatively speaking. Studies have shown that a healthy cardiovascular system has a positive effect on hearing. Conversely, poor blood flow and trauma to blood vessels of the inner ear can contribute to hearing loss.
In a study, published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, researchers looked at hearing sensitivity in older adults and its association with cardiovascular risk factors. They concluded that modifiable risk factors for cardiovascular disease may play a role in the development of age-related hearing loss. One risk factor associated with poorer hearing sensitivity in men, in addition to high triglyceride levels and a history of smoking, was high resting heart rate. In women, poor hearing sensitivity was associated with high body mass index, high resting heart rate, fast aortic pulse-wave velocity, and low ankle–arm index.
In another study, published in the American Journal of Audiology, the authors reviewed research that had been conducted over the past 60 plus years. They found that the negative influence of impaired cardiovascular health on both the peripheral and central auditory system, and the potential positive influence of improved cardiovascular health on these same systems, was found through a sizable body of research.
As we age, it is important to maintain physical activity because there is also a reduction in the amount of water in the body, which means less fluid in the bloodstream and therefore a reduced amount of blood in the body. If we are in poor cardiovascular health, the organ systems, big and small, begin to fail exponentially.
Exercises that Benefit Your Hearing
Choosing the right exercise regimen can be overwhelming considering the complex routines and facilities available. The good news: almost all exercise promotes your hearing health! Riding a bicycle, outside or at the gym, will get blood pumping and oxygen flowing. Thinking about exercise as a part of your daily routine makes it less daunting, so set yourself up for success. Jogging or walking for as little as 20-30 minutes is also a great cardiovascular exercise. Use large muscle groups and stretch before and afterward; this prepares your muscles for activity and gets blood flowing.
Of course, there are specialized fitness classes that target different muscle groups, work on weight and muscle gain, et cetera, but those aren’t necessary to achieve good cardiovascular health. Find what’s comfortable and stick to it. If a fitness class is appealing, consider ear plugs if the class plays loud music for the duration. Remember that one of your fitness goals is improving your hearing health so keep your eyes on the prize!
Visit Us at Audio Advantage Hearing Aid Center
In addition to exercise, an annual hearing test is an important part of maintaining your optimal hearing health. At Audio Advantage Hearing Aid Center, we provide comprehensive hearing tests and hearing aid fittings. Contact us today to learn more.