Decide to Form Healthy Habits Today
Everyone knows the basic foundations of a healthy lifestyle. Yes there are gigantic industries promising shortcuts and hacks, but it is common knowledge that a nourishing diet, effective exercise, and proper rest are the cornerstones of overall health. People may commonly choose unhealthy habits, but very few people do so because of ignorance.
It is less commonly recognized, however, that your hearing health is also a cornerstone of your overall health. With appropriate treatment, the impact that hearing loss will have on your overall health should be negligible. But when one fails to treat it appropriately, the consequences of hearing loss most often unravel into damaging every aspect of one’s life.
In the immediate, hearing loss increases the risk of injury by throwing off one’s environmental awareness and sense of balance. Beyond that it leads to emotional, psychological, and cognitive damages, along with unnecessarily complicating one’s relationships and professional opportunities.
Hearing Loss: Who Suffers From it and Why
Nearly 14% of the American population lives with some detectable degree of hearing loss. It is impossible to know an exact number because so many of these people endure their condition forgoing proper treatment. In fact, tragically, it is believed that less than 20% of everyone with hearing loss maintains appropriate treatment.
Same as the fundamentals of diet and exercise are hardly a big secret, the most common factors that can cause hearing loss are also well known. A minute percentage of cases are thanks to genetic factors, congenital conditions, chronic ear infections, tragic accidents, or infectious diseases. But the vast majority of people who suffer from hearing loss do so thanks to the gradual damage caused by poor hearing health habits that have become normalized.
And there is no great trick to recognizing when you are putting yourself in a risky situation. How simple can a rule of thumb be: if a sound is uncomfortably loud, it is probably not good for you. Listen to your body.
Exercise May Help Improve Your Hearing
And if you’ll excuse the turn of phrase here, new research is suggesting that your body will also listen to you. A clear link seems to be emerging between regular exercise and good hearing. And it makes sense when we consider it closely.
The benefits of exercise are profound. An exercise regiment maintains one’s weight, improves one’s bone density and cardiovascular system, and even boosts the immune system. And now experts believe that it also helps maintain your hearing thanks to the impact that exercise has on increased blood flow.
Innumerable microscopic hairs live inside our ears. When sound waves cause them to vibrate, they tap against our eardrums. And then, nearly instantaneously, our eardrums send these signals to our brains to decode.
Excessive volume levels injure these tiny hairs. And when these tiny hairs die, it is permanent and irreversible. But increased blood flow helps strengthen the resilience of these tiny hairs. And exercise causes increased blood flow. It strengthens our entire cardiovascular system, which, in turn, improves the functioning of the countless capillaries and nerves that enable the delicate mechanics of our hearing.
Put another way, our bodies require oxygen. And a body at rest does not push the oxygen into all the remote little nooks that need it. A strong heart pumps blood everywhere that it needs to get.
And our brains need oxygen most of all. Remember it is our brains that decode and spatialize the signals our eardrums send. A shortage of oxygen forces the brain to work harder, diminishing its efficiency. If this shortage persists for an extended period of time, nerves atrophy, which helps explain why the consequences of hearing loss compound into disorientation and cognitive decline.
What Should You Do Now?
You did not need one more good reason to exercise, but now you have one more reason not to put it off. And do not blast music in your earbuds or aerobics class to pump your adrenaline. Almost 1/3 of aerobics instructors have tinnitus and the average aerobics class is about 90dB, a volume that can cause harm in just two minutes of exposure.
Today is the day to take action. Walk, run, ride your bike, lift weights or go to yoga. You know best what feels right to you. And you know that you have no good excuse to put it off.