Cycling is a low-impact, aerobic exercise that is a great option if you’re looking to strengthen your heart, blood vessels and lungs. Whether you’re going for a spin class, a leisurely ride along the Southern Walnut Creek Trail or setting off on a three-day cycling and backpacking trip, knowing how to protect your hearing during your rides is essential to your continued enjoyment of the sport.
Let’s take a look at the impact cycling has on your hearing and what you can do to protect your ears on your next ride.
What Is the Threshold for Hearing Loss?
Sound is measured in decibels (dB). For example, a washing machine or dishwasher reaches noise levels of approximately 70 dB, and standing near sirens or alarms will expose you to approximately 120 dB. The Centers for Disease Control defines the threshold for hearing loss as “Noise above 70 dB over a prolonged period of time may start to damage your hearing. Loud noise above 120 dB can cause immediate harm to your ears.”
The Impact on Hearing When Cycling Outdoors
One study evaluating the volume of wind noise when cycling found that cyclists are exposed to decibels ranging from 84.9 dB at 10 mph to 120.3 dB at 60 mph. Because the volume of wind when cycling outdoors is well within the threshold for hearing loss, it is vital to protect your ears using one or more of the following methods:
- Wear a sweatband. A sweatband can ward off some of the impact of wind noise without adversely impacting your awareness of your surroundings.
- Use a wind guard. Wind guards are specially designed for cyclists to reduce the impact of wind noise. They can easily be paired with hearing aids to keep you aware of your surroundings while protecting your ear health.
The Impact on Hearing When Cycling Indoors
While there is no wind noise while cycling indoors, music and instructor volumes may reach dangerous levels. One study evaluating the volume of 17 spin classes in Boston, Massachusetts, found that attendees were exposed to an average of 31.6 minutes of noise exceeding 100 dB, or well over the CDC-defined threshold for hearing loss.
To protect your hearing while cycling indoors, consider swapping your spin class for an at-home stationary bike. If you prefer the in-class experience, wear earplugs to reduce the impact with which sound hits your ear canal.
For more information on protecting your hearing, contact River ENT today to make an appointment with one of our specialists.