Watching Out for Dangerous Decibels in Exercise Classes

Watching Out for Dangerous Decibels in Exercise Classes

Do you love to work out? Not only does a regular exercise routine help improve your endurance, strength, and heart health, but can improve your mood and even help protect your hearing. That is because a healthy heart means ample circulation to support the tiny hair-like cells on the inner ear which send audio information to the brain! Therefore we recommend regular exercise at least three times a week for 30 minutes to support hearing health.

A steady beat and a catchy tune can really help motivate you to work out for longer and push yourself further. This is because your favorite music can release endorphins and in combination with a lively exercise routine can improve mood. With an elevated heart rate and a beloved playlist, you may even achieve a sense of euphoria, which is a great incentive to workout harder, longer and more frequently. Of course, as you are feeling your favorite song, you may be tempted to turn up your music louder and louder in order to really feel it but this can actually be damaging for your hearing health.

Dangerous Decibels Levels

Many people find that when they can’t find the motivation on their own to work out and get their heartrate up, they can find it externally with others by attending a workout class. Many aerobic workout classes use loud music to help you and your classmate truly push yourself further and really break a sweat. However, many of these classes turn up the volume to unsafe levels, particularly in a gym where sound bounces off hard surfaces and is amplified by lack of insulation and echoes.

All too often some of these aerobic exercise classes play music at levels which surpass 90 decibels (dB). Decibels is a measurement of loudness of sound and 90 dBA is equal to a subway train screeching to a halt at the platform. In many cases exercise classes can reach 100 dBA or more! That is loud enough to damage hearing in 15 minutes or less.

Decibel Exposure

When it comes to decibels any sound over 85 dBA can damage the tiny hairlike cells of the inner ear which send sound from the ears to the brain. This is because sound waves cause vibrations and beyond a safe listening threshold, they can shatter inner ear cells causing permanent hearing damage. However, it is not just the level of sound to look out for but the length of exposure. At 85 dBA it can take 8 hours of constant exposure for damage to occur, but for every increase of three decibels it cuts the sound exposure time in half. At 88 dBA it only takes 4 hours and at 91 dBA it takes 2. By the time sounds reach past 100 dBA you could damage hearing easily in the span of a 30-minute exercise class! This means that you could be doing as much harm as good in your favorite exercise class.

The Dangers of Hearing Loss

When you live with hearing loss it can make it hard to communicate with the people in your life. While it can start subtly, hearing loss is a progressive and permanent condition. This means that communication issues can build up over years, creating rifts in your most cherished relationships between friends, coworkers, family and even your significant other. This can make social situations difficult and unbearable, often causing you to choose to avoid them as hearing loss progresses. You will find yourself being less active and less likely to try new things. All too quickly it becomes clear that the negative effects of dangerous decibels in exercise class can build up into much more serious and lasting health conditions. The goal of exercise is to find a sustainable practice which will support you for years. This means finding a safe decibel level for your aerobics class is essential for sustained aerobic health!

Turn Down the Volume

The important thing to understand is that you can always turn the volume to a safe level and it won’t make that much impact on the intensity of your workout. A good rule of thumb is to keep the volume turned up to no higher than 60 percent of the potential volume. If you find you must yell to speak to someone three feet away from you or more, then it’s too loud. 

If you think you are being exposed to dangerous decibels in your aerobics class, you can always wear hearing protection to lower the volume or talk to your instructor about turning down the volume. However, if you feel that you do have a hearing loss, it’s important to treat it right away. Contact us to set up a hearing exam and find out what we can do to help you stay active and connected for years to come!