Can Exercising Help You Hear

Let me start by saying that I’m not a fan of exercising. Sweating, breathlessness, and revving up my pulse rate doesn’t make me feel better. I don’t like the loss of the minutes or hours it takes to keep my body in shape. Yet, I do exercise. On the insistence of my doctor, I’ve jogged, taken aerobics classes, and lifted weights. I was never convinced that these activities improved my health. Lately, I’ve changed my thinking about exercise after coming across an article in my audiologist’s most recent newsletter regarding the relationship between exercise and hearing.

The authors of the article stated that any form of repetitive movement a few times a week improves circulation to all body parts, including your inner ears. Research showed that the increase in blood flow might prevent the loss of the tiny hair cells deep in your middle ear and slow age-related hearing loss. Given, I developed a routine that makes sense for me. Three days a week, I walk a mile-and a half to the gym. While there, I spend fifteen to twenty minutes lifting weights. Mind you, I’m a baby boomer in my late sixties and I’m not out to sculpt my middle-aged body. I stick with weights ten pounds or under.

Two days a week, I enjoy a forty-five minute to one hour stroll through my community. This time of year, it’s pleasant in Southwest Florida. The mornings are cool and sunny. The breezes are light and refreshing. While ambling, I might happen on wood storks, ducks, geese, and egrets, just hanging out. I find these outings soothing and relaxing. I use the time spent walking to plan articles and to reflect on various matters in my life. Some people with hearing loss have issues with balance which can lead to broken bones or sprained body parts. I work on balance with yoga movements I found online. If you are wondering if balance is an issue for you, try this quick test. Stand straight and tall then breathe in and out until you feel relaxed. Focus on one nearby object. Slowly lift up one of your legs and start counting. If you can stand on one leg for one full minute, you have pretty good balance. If you can’t make it past a few seconds, you need help. Consult your audiologist or a doctor.

On Saturdays, I sometimes attend a Tai Chi class. If you are unfamiliar, Tai Chi, like yoga, is a series of body movements that helps increase muscle mass and improve balance and concentration. I don’t sweat or end up short of breath after doing Tai Chi’s 124 movements. Instead I feel refreshed and as my instructor puts it, “in harmony with my body.”  I’m not convinced that the time I spend working out will help slow down the loss of hair cells in my inner ear. But hopeful, I wiggle into shorts and lace up my walking shoes, believing that my meanderings through the hearing world might become easier keeping toned leads to better hearing.