Exercise, Good for Your Hearing

It is a widely known fact that exercise is good for you. Physical activity is a good way to lose weight, has the ability to lower the risk of certain diseases, and it is fun! However, recent research shows that regular exercise may also be good for your hearing. Researchers at the University of Florida have recently discovered that physical activity may also help prevent a very common ailment, age-related hearing loss.

The auditory system does not have an off switch, so it is always working on processing sound. Your hair cells sense sound, while the strial capillaries feed the auditory system with oxygen, and the spiral ganglion sends sound from the cochlea to the brain. However, when there is a loss of hair cells, strial capillaries, and neurons in the ear, hearing loss commonly occurs. This is the reason why hearing loss typically occurs alongside the aging process. Hearing loss is not an uncommon condition; it affects an estimated 70 percent of adults who are over the age of 70.

Recently published in the Journal of Neuroscience, researchers discovered that mice that live a sedentary life lost important structures (i.e. strial capillaries and hair cells) of the auditory system at a much higher rate than mice that remained active throughout life. Researchers separated the mice into two groups and made sure that only one group of rats had access to a running wheel. Once the mice were aged to 24 months, which is equivalent to the age of 60 in human years, researchers compared the exercising mice to the group of non-exercising mice. The result of the study showed that there was a 5 percent hearing loss in active mice, whereas 20 percent of sedentary mice demonstrated hearing loss.

Inflammation is believed to be the culprit behind damaged cells and capillaries, which regular exercise helps fight against. It is believed that this research translates to humans, so aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week to help keep away age-related hearing loss.

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