Letter: Good hearing an important part of health routine
Do you ever wonder if the loud, thumping music played during an exercise class is causing damage to your hearing? According to a study by Kujawa and Lieberman in The Journal of Neuroscience, “Overexposure to intense sound can cause temporary or permanent hearing loss.”
While booming music is supposed to be motivating, consider a few facts. Federal guidelines from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration set the maximum safe level for an hour, the duration of many exercise classes, at 105 decibels. You actually can determine the safety of the sound level in your class without a decibel reader. The sound is harmful if you have to shout to hear yourself or experience ringing in your ears. By the way, OSHA will investigate adherence to its regulations upon request via an interested party complaint, and companies – even fitness clubs – can face fines for serious violations.
The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders agrees that any noise for an extended period of time above 105 decibels is dangerous. Surprisingly, the International Association of Fitness Professionals determined that music during a physical workout should not measure more than 90 decibels, but many fitness clubs do not adhere to the limit.
The IFPA also recommends that an instructor’s voice, which is often louder than the music played, should not exceed 100 dB and that instructors should use a sound level meter to insure safety.
Another factor contributing to hearing loss at fitness clubs is our tendency to follow what is considered “normal.” Getting used to loud music, however, does not lead to better hearing. Furthermore, according to the NIDCD, many people do not even recognize their own hearing loss until serious damage has happened because it occurs gradually.
It just makes sense to ask a fitness instructor to turn down the volume. After all, should exercising for the sake of your health cause you to risk your hearing?
Diane Hamstra, 46032