Spinning May Be Bad for Your Hearing, Study Says

Loud music played during classes may contribute to hearing loss.
Spinning

Spinning photo via istock.com/andresr

Listen up, SoulCycle addicts and Flywheel aficionados: Your Spin class’ pounding playlist may help you sprint faster, but a recent study says it could be putting your ears in jeopardy.

The research, out of Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, found that the speaker-shaking beats at your local studio may contribute to hearing loss over time. Instructors and repeat class attendees, logically, are at highest risk.

Study authors saddled up for cycling classes at six unspecified Boston studios, and used a smartphone app called SoundMeter Pro to measure volume levels. The average noise exposure in a single 45-minute cycling class, they found, was more than eight times higher than the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health’s (NIOSH) recommendations for an entire eight-hour work day. Add to the equation past hypotheses that exercise compounds noise-induced hearing damage, and things aren’t sounding good.

Most of the 15 recorded sessions were loud almost from start to finish, which may be detrimental to aural health. None of the classes exceeded NIOSH’s guidelines for instantaneous exposure, however, nor did they surpass the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) legally binding limits for a full work day. (The researchers point out in the paper that NIOSH’s guidelines are based on the best available science, while OSHA represents industry standards.)

Make sure you hear these results loud and clear if you’re a regular at group fitness studios. While the study looked specifically at Spin classes—and prior research has shown that they tend to be loudest—any workout class that blasts music may put your hearing at risk. That means you, cardio dancers and bootcamp buffs.

“Although exercise classes focus on improving overall health and fitness, attendees should be aware of the measurable risk to their hearing health,” the paper cautions. “Attendance of spin classes for cardiovascular health ought to be weighed against the risks associated with hearing damage.”

Worried about your ears? You can download the app used in the study, SoundMeter Pro, and use it to measure noise levels at your own gym. If you find the data concerning, toss a pair of earplugs in your gym bag before your next class.


Jamie Ducharme Jamie Ducharme, Contributor jducharme@bostonmagazine.com