Protect Your Ears
August 2017 – by Per Christensson
The last decade has seen a plethora of advancements in headphone technology. Small earbuds can now produce sound comparable to large headsets designed for high fidelity sound. Bluetooth earphones (like Apple's AirPods) have made listening to music while working out easier and more practical than before.
While cranking your favorite jams might give you an added boost during your workout, it can also damage your ears. I often hear people's music in the weight room from several feet away. If the sound from their small earbuds are audible from that distance, I can only imagine how loud the music is in their ears.
Your heart rate increases during exercise, but research has shown that blood flow to your inner ear actually decreases. This makes your ears more susceptible to damage from the pressure of sound waves. While cranking up your tunes for half an hour during your run might seem innocuous, the damage can add up. If you multiply the time spent during an average workout by the number of workouts in a week, then by the number of weeks in a year — that's a lot of time. If you're always listening to your music at high volume, there is a good change you'll damage your ears and lose some of your hearing.
So instead of cranking up your music to a level where it drowns out your surroundings, tone it down a few notches. If it seems too soft, fight the urge to turn it back up. You'll eventually get used to the slightly lower volume. You can enjoy the benefits of having a soundtrack for your workout while saving your ears.
Important: Live music (like rock concerts) can also damage your ears. I recommend buying a pair of "high fidelity" earplugs ($10 - $20) that allow you to hear most of the music while protecting your hearing at the same time. I tried some high fidelity earplugs at a recent concert and was impressed with the result. I could still hear the music pretty clearly, but my ears were not ringing when I left.