Kevin T. Barlow, Au.D.
Regular exercise provides a wealth of benefits: more energy, longer life expectancy, stronger bones and muscles, and lower risk for obesity and diabetes, to name a few. A recent study has added a new benefit to the list: delay of age-related hearing loss.
Age-related hearing loss affects almost two-thirds of U.S. adults over the age of 70. It’s a result of natural changes that happen in your inner ear, middle ear, and neural pathways as you age. The loss is gradual and can lead to communication problems, feelings of isolation, and decreased physical function. But results from a recent study in the Journal of Neuroscience suggest that regular exercise can delay age-related hearing loss.
The researchers compared two groups of mice for 24 months. The experimental group regularly exercised by running on a wheel; the control group did not.
Mice in the exercise group had better hearing after 24 months than did the control group, and the physical findings supported this: For mice in the exercise group, key areas of the inner ear hadn’t broken down as much as the same areas had in the control group. However, for the exercise group, better hearing only occurred in the low and middle frequencies.
How did this happen? One important finding was that in the mice from the exercise group, a greater number of intact blood vessels were nourishing the cochlea — the part of your inner ear that converts sound into nerve impulses for your brain to interpret. In other words, physical activity ensured the inner ear continued to receive plenty of oxygen and nutrients.
The Good News
In this study, the mice were not forced to exercise — the mice in the exercise group only exercised if they felt like it. The authors speculated that forced running might have produced even better results. This is, indeed, good news: Taking control of age-related hearing loss is as simple as working basic aerobic exercise into your day.
Physical activity is just the beginning. Overall health is connected to hearing health in many ways, such as heart health and nutrition. Untreated hearing loss has been linked to numerous other complications such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hypertension, cognitive decline, depression, anxiety, and social withdrawal. Knowing your body’s relationship with hearing can help you stay mindful of your overall well-being and can help create a path for healthier living.
At Winter Haven Audiology, we understand that each individual’s hearing needs are unique; therefore, we offer a variety of hearing aids, products, and options to personalize your treatment plan and enhance your hearing experience.
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Winter Haven Audiology
510 1st St S | Winter Haven
704 SR 60 E | Lake Wales