Get fit, not deaf: how to avoid ringing ears at the gym

May 2, 2016

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Get fit, not deaf: how to avoid ringing ears at the gym

In our liquid modernity, the prevailing conception of beauty and health has redefined itself yet again. The new buzzwords for the norm of beauty are “fit” and “healthy”. The place that has become the hotbed to achieve this is the fitness studio. Regardless if you prefer Zumba, Bodypump or Cross-fit classes, chances are that your weekly visits to the gym will boost your body - but be aware - it could also deteriorate your hearing irreversibly. 

In recent years, scientists have obtained fascinating insight to how music can motivate us and increase our physical performance. As a result, fitness studios worldwide have become a synonym for pounding basslines and mind blowing sound volumes. In some fitness studios, ringing ears after class have even become an indication of a fulfilled physical workout. This could not be more wrong. Ringing ears, tinnitus or decreased hearing ability is symptoms of deteriorating hearing. It is basically the way your ears tell you that they have been hurt.  And take this crazy fact: A study from the National Acoustic Laboratories of Australia found that the noise of fitness classes can reach the level of 97 decibels – that is comparable to the noise generated by a small jet engine. The critical limit of noise is 80 decibel. At a noise level of 100 decibel, your hearing risks irreversible damage after only 15 minutes. No wonder your ear’s alarm bells start ringing . 

But the good news is  there are easy and inexpensive ways for you to get the most from your workout without causing irreversible damage to your ears.

The trick to enjoy all the positive benefits of music meanwhile protecting your hearing is to wear earplugs. Wearing a pair during your fitness class will prevent the harmful sound waves from hurting your ears, yet let the good vibes keep you going. We encourage you to pack a pair in your gym bag if they aren’t distributed at your fitness studio. Alternatively, and for the common good of all participants in your class, you could also ask your instructor to turn the music  down a bit. For more info on hearing behavior check out our study how the world hears.

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