Researchers have shown us that exercise is good for your hearing! We all know that regular exercise helps reduce weight gain, improves bone density, increases cardiovascular fitness and even helps to support your immune system. Now, the results are showing that lack of aerobic exercise in mice caused the structures inside the hearing organ (cochlea) to collapse or deteriorate. The hair cells or nerves that pick up sound and change it to electrical signal and the strial capillaries, which provide the blood flow to the cochlea were not as productive in the sedentary mice. The strial capillaries take the necessary oxygen to the auditory system, which is essential for the function of the hearing organs.
The mice that exercised showed a five percent hearing loss in their lifetime, while the mice that were not allowed to exercise experienced a 20 percent hearing loss. Now, researchers believe that 70 percent of hearing loss in people over 70 years is related to the loss of these important structures. The researchers also noted that age related inflammation in the less active mice was more significant than in the active mice.
Cardiovascular health seems to be one of the secrets to keeping the body and all of its intricate organs happy. The body needs oxygen to maintain a state of functional health. The body at rest does not challenge the heart enough to keep the oxygen rich blood flowing to all the distant tiny areas (like the hearing organs) that are dependent on a continual supply of fresh oxygen. The aging process promotes saggy skin, right? So, think about your insides; they are probably saggy, too. If the outside of our body teaches us anything, it is that “things are a’changing.”
How does blood full of life-giving oxygen easily travel down the arteries that branch out into smaller and smaller areas to tissue changing into tiny capillaries when the resistance of the artery walls is no longer there? The heart must maintain strength to pump the blood all over the body. As we age, there is a reduction in total body water; thus, less fluid in the bloodstream, causing a reduction in the amount of blood we have. The reproduction of the blood cells is reduced as we age, which is problematic if there is blood loss or anemia. If we simply let things go as they go, we fall into poor cardiovascular health.
It is important to remember that the brain is dependent on oxygen delivered from blood. The brain is responsible for taking all the sound you hear and converting it into signals that make sense. It has to work hard to decipher the speech sound and separate it from background noise. This requires a healthy brain that is able to transfer information from one area to the other in a timely manner. It needs to race the information to the necessary area of the brain so you will be able to understand the current sentence and not need to stop to figure out the previous sentence that was said. As we age, speed of processing is compromised naturally but with consistent fresh supply of oxygen this is less noticeable. When an area of the brain is not consistently provided oxygen, the nerves degenerate and are never able to be used again.
What Type of Exercise Helps Hearing?
The important part of exercise is not what you do but that you do something on a regular basis. You can walk, bike, run or go to a class at the gym. It does not really matter what you do, so pick something that you like and create the habit to do it. The important thing is that you make it part of your normal routine. Think of it as the daily norm similar to taking a shower, brushing your teeth, eating, drinking and, of course, exercising. Make exercise one of your normal daily activities.
During your exercise, it is important to use large muscle movements for at least 20-30 minutes five days a week. Walk for 10 minutes, turn around and go back – and magically, you have your 20 minutes of exercise! Stretching helps blood flow to your muscles and other structures, which are necessary to have a full and happy life. Simple, gentle stretches help wake the muscles and increase blood flow at the same time! You are the only person who can change your blood flow, so make it your choice today! QCBN
By Karon Lynn, Au.D.