Stroll Your Way to Better Hearing: The Surprising Connection Between Your Feet and Ears

Did you know that something as simple as your feet may hold the key to supporting your hearing health? Studies indicate that activities involving your feet, such as walking, can help lower your risk of deafness by keeping your weight down and promoting overall health. Read on to learn about the connection between physical activity and hearing loss prevention and find out how you can incorporate more movement into your daily routine.

The link between your feet and hearing health

Researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston discovered an interesting connection in a study focusing on more than 68,000 women from the Nurses’ Health Study II. Over a timeframe spanning 1989 to 2009, they observed that women who maintained a healthy weight and participated in walking and other physical activities significantly reduced their chances of going deaf.

Hearing loss is often seen as an unavoidable part of aging, but this study’s findings suggest that focusing on modifiable risk factors like staying active and maintaining a healthy weight could help prevent or slow the progression of hearing loss.

In this group of women, those who were the most active saw a 17 percent lower risk of hearing loss. Walking, the most common form of reported physical activity, was specifically linked to a lower risk. Women who walked for two hours or more per week enjoyed a 15 percent lower risk of hearing loss compared to those who walked less than one hour per week.

The role of physical activity: it’s more than just weight maintenance

So, how does walking and other physical activities help protect our hearing? First and foremost, physical activity helps us maintain a healthy weight. Carrying extra weight strains our cardiovascular system, potentially impacting the blood flow to the vital organs, including the delicate structures in our ears. Poor blood flow can lead to permanent hearing damage.

Another benefit of physical activity, particularly walking, is that it improves overall circulation. Improved circulation can lead to better oxygen and nutrient delivery to the cochlea, the part of the ear that transforms sound vibrations into nerve impulses that our brain can interpret.

Lastly, physical activity reduces inflammation, a formidable foe when it comes to hearing health. Chronic inflammation can damage nerves, including the delicate auditory nerves responsible for transmitting sound signals to the brain. When these nerves are damaged, it can lead to sensorineural hearing loss – the most common form of hearing loss. By keeping inflammation at bay through regular exercise, we can protect our auditory nerves and maintain better hearing health.

Walking your way to better hearing health

You don’t have to be a marathon runner to reap the rewards of physical activity for your hearing health. Incorporate these suggestions into your routine to help protect and support your hearing:

  1. Aim for 150 minutes per week: The American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week, which translates to about 30 minutes, five days per week. Walking, swimming, biking, or doing aerobic exercises are all great choices for getting your body moving and supporting your hearing health.

  2. Try interval walking: If walking for a solid 150 minutes per week seems daunting, try breaking it up into shorter intervals. Walking for as little as 10-15 minutes at a time can still add up and contribute to better hearing health.

  3. Mix up the terrain: Varying the surface you walk on not only challenges your body and helps improve balance but can also engage your mind as you navigate changes in terrain. Walk at a park, on a trail or even on the beach to keep things interesting and challenging.

  4. Invite a buddy: Walking with a friend or family member can make the experience more enjoyable, increasing your motivation to stay consistent. Plus, it’s an excellent opportunity to practice listening and socializing in a real-life environment.

  5. Stay accountable: Track your steps and exercise routines with a pedometer or fitness app to make sure you’re meeting your goals. You can also join a local walking group or sign up for a charity walk to maintain motivation and have fun while helping others.

In conclusion, taking care of your hearing health is as simple as taking a step in the right direction. By incorporating physical activity like walking into your daily routine, you can not only maintain a healthy weight and support overall health but also contribute to better hearing. So, grab your walking shoes and head outdoors – your ears will thank you.