A Possible Link Between Exercise & Reduced Risk for Hearing Loss

A Possible Link Between Exercise & Reduced Risk for Hearing Loss

There is no denying the positive effects of exercise! When you are even moderately physically active it can help not only keep your heart healthy and your blood pressure at an ideal level, but can strengthen bones and muscles, improve your brain health, reduce the risk of disease, and improve your ability to do everyday activities. For older adults, even a mild amount of exercise can make all the difference. Exercise boosts your mood and improves your energy, and helps you get better sleep. Now, to add even more benefits to exercise, studies show that those who live an active lifestyle with regular exercise have a reduced risk of hearing loss as well.

The Link Between Exercise & Hearing Loss

To understand how our hearing could be affected and improved by exercise, in 2016 researchers conducted and published a study in the Journal of Neuroscience. Using safe experiments on mice they examined the activity level and lifestyle and cross-examined their hearing health. They found that mice who lived a more sedentary lifestyle had hearing structures that were negatively affected. The tiny hair-like cells which are responsible for sending sound to the brain as well as trial capillaries responsible for delivering oxygen to the rest of the auditory system within their cochlea were damaged. 

Mice were used in this study, as their hearing systems are relatively similar to those of humans. These damages in the ears of mice and humans both directly cause lifelong hearing loss. The study further found that the sedentary mice also displayed less spiral ganglion, which are nerve cells connected to stereocilia, responsible for sending the sound signals from the ear to the brain. When in comparison with active mice the sedentary mice studied experienced an average of 20% hearing loss over their lifetime.

The Benefits of Active Mice

The fascinating news for exercise buffs who are concerned about protecting their hearing is that of the mice who exercised, only 5% displayed hearing loss. In other words, 95% of the mice had a normal and healthy hearing. In aging mice, exercise seemed to diminish the effects of inflammation common with age. Mice seemed to hear for longer into their golden years. The researcher concluded that at least in this cohort, active mice helped to protect the auditory system and hypothesized that this would most likely carry over to human hearing as well.

Hypothesis on Exercise and Hearing Loss

The researchers understood that the mice who exercised had better hearing, however, what would account for such a huge impact on hearing. Well, the stereocilia within the inner ear are cells that rely on a healthy supply of oxygenated blood to stay healthy. For those of us who stay active, we often enjoy health benefits that aid in longevity such as healthy blood pressure, less chance of diabetes, and improved heart health. These health risks can impede the flow of blood to the fragile and sensitive inner ear, causing lasting hearing loss. 

Further Studies Linking Hearing Health to Regular Exercise

Another study from Johns Hopkins University further solidified claims showing the improved advantage of exercise for hearing health. The study found that older adults who exercised regularly also maintained improved hearing health. Even seniors who completed a minimum of low to moderate exercise activities for just three hours a week scored much better on standard hearing examinations than those who did not exercise at all.

It’s important to remember that taking even just 30 minutes a day to exercise can have great effects on your hearing health. This is suspected to be due to greater promotion of blood circulation throughout the body including the inner ear. This can result in reduced inflammation throughout the body which can damage the tiny hair cells which are contingent to hear.

Treating Your Hearing Loss

The result of exercise has a wide cornucopia of benefits. Who knew hearing support was one of them?! If you do have hearing loss it’s realistic to believe that regular exercise can help maintain your existing hearing. If you do have hearing loss it is irreversible but can be treated effectively with hearing aids. To find out more about what we can do for your hearing health, stay active and schedule a hearing exam with us today!