As we head into the new year, many people will feel inspired to recommit to resolutions that the pandemic has made difficult to achieve, including exercising more. In addition to improving sleep, mood and cognition, regular cardiovascular exercise has been shown to boost hearing. Below is an overview of the link between cardiovascular strength and hearing health.

Cardiovascular Strength & Hearing Health

Jogger running along a wooded path.

Within the inner ears are tiny hair cells called stereocilia. These cells are responsible for converting incoming soundwaves into electrical energy that travels via the auditory nerve to the brain to be interpreted as sound.

These cells rely on oxygen brought to the ears via blood flow to survive and function. For many people with poor cardiovascular health, they have poor blood circulation to the ears, causing these hair cells to die. Once dead, they do not regenerate, and permanent sensorineural hearing loss is the result.

What the Studies Show

Multiple studies have confirmed the link between cardio and hearing.

One of these studies was conducted by Miami University over a full decade. They studied patients ages 8 to 88 and found the following:

  • Hearing loss correlates with age, though noticeable hearing loss does not usually appear until after age 50.
  • Low cardiovascular fitness at any age is associated with poor hearing sensitivity compared to those with medium to high levels of cardiovascular fitness.
  • People over 50 with medium to high cardiovascular fitness maintain hearing sensitivity comparable to that of someone in their 30s.
  • The association between hearing loss and cardiovascular fitness is linked by the common mechanism of blood circulation.

Another study by the University of Florida studied the effect of long-term exercise on age-related hearing loss in mice. They found that two-year-old mice who had access to and used a wheel to run had less cochlear hair cell and spiral ganglion neuron loss as well as better auditory brainstem response thresholds compared to control mice of the same age who did not have access to an exercise wheel.

This suggests that long-term exercise delays the progression of age-related hearing loss by reducing the loss of capillaries associated with inflammation.

For more information or to schedule an appointment, call Bountiful Hearing Center today.

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