Hearing aids: your best workout partner

Contributed by | Tuesday, August 9th, 2016

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If you don’t wear your hearing aids when you’re playing your favorite sport or working out at the gym, maybe you should reconsider. Athletes such as Derrick Coleman (fullback for the Seattle Seahawks), Tamika Catchings (Indiana Fever and Olympic Gold Medalist) and professional rugby player, Mat Gilbert, wear their hearing devices when they play. And, while you may not be participating at the same level as these world-class athletes, taking a page from their play book may make your recreational activities safer and more enjoyable.

Why your hearing aids should be part of your workout gear

people on treadmills in gym
With proper care, your hearing aids can
stand up to most any workout.

Today’s hearing aids can be expensive, but they’re also more robust and resistant to dust and moisture than they used to be. With a little care and preparation, there’s no reason you can’t wear them during workouts and competition. Here’s why:

  • Increased ability to communicate – If you play a team sport, it’s important to be able to communicate with the other players on the field or court. Professional rugby player, Mat Gilbert, wears a hearing aid beneath his helmet because he says hearing aids give him the ability to hear and communicate better. “I couldn’t play rugby at the level I do without the ability to hear and communicate efficiently,” he wrote in an online article for HearingLikeMe published in July 2016. “There is so much communication in rugby, and I believe I wouldn’t be able to cope if I didn’t wear my hearing aids.” And, spending time at the gym can be as much a social event as it is a workout. Your hearing aids will make catching up with your gym buddies easier despite the background noise.
  • Personal safety – Even if you aren’t playing at a competitive level, wearing your hearing aids during a workout can be as much a matter of personal safety as anything else. Runners and bikers who train outdoors are safer when they can hear the sirens from approaching medical or emergency personnel. Golfers need to hear when another yells “fore” from across the course just as cyclists need to hear the road noise from approaching vehicles.
  • Your favorite tunes - Few things get you through a grueling workout like your favorite music playing while you sweat. Many of today's hearing aids offer wireless functionality that helps you connect effortlessly via Bluetooth technology to your MP3 player to stream music right through your hearing aids. 

Hearing aid gear for your gym bag

One of the best ways to feel comfortable wearing your hearing aids during physical activity is to be prepared. Here’s a list of some of the gear to have on hand:

  • Hearing aid sweatbands – If you perspire heavily and are worried about soaking your behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids, you may want to keep a few hearing aid sweatbands in your gym bag. These absorbent sleeves fit over your hearing aid to protect it from sweat and grime, are available in a variety of colors and are sized to fit your particular hearing aid. They are a relatively inexpensive way to protect your hearing aid investment and range in price depending on the size and manufacturer. 
  • Skull cap – Seattle Seahawks fullback, Derrick Coleman, wears two skull caps beneath his football helmet. One keeps the sweat off the hearing aids and the other keeps his hearing aids securely in place. These close-fitting caps come in a variety of materials and colors; some are made especially for sports with cooling performance fabric designed to absorb moisture. Look for these accessories online or in sporting goods stores. Prices range from $10 - $25.
  • Hearing aid clip – Regardless of whether you wear BTE or in-the-ear (ITE) hearing aids, a hearing aid clip helps prevent the loss of a hearing aid should it accidentally become dislodged from your ear. Most clips feature a lightweight lanyard which attaches to the hearing instrument on one end and clips to your clothing on the other. If unavailable from your hearing healthcare professional, these accessories can be purchased online in a wide variety of styles and colors, ranging in price from $8 - $12.
  • Puffer – A hearing aid puffer blows small amounts of air through the hearing aid or its tubing and moldings to keep them clean and free from obstruction. And, since droplets of sweat from the ears can sometimes make their way into tubing and earmolds, a puffer is a useful tool for drying them out in the locker room or at home. This inexpensive tool is available at local drugstores for $3-$5.
  • Antimicrobial products - Disinfectant wipes made especially for hearing aids are easy to carry in your gym bag and convenient for cleaning your hearing aids away from home. Be sure to consult with your hearing healthcare professional on the best way to keep your particular model clean and sanitized. If your hearing center doesn’t carry disinfectant wipes, check online. Prices range from $7-$20.
  • Batteries – It goes without saying, but your hearing aids are ineffective if your batteries lose power halfway through the match. Mat Gilbert puts fresh batteries in his aids before each match to make sure they work for the entire game. You might also want to carry a package or two in your gym bag as backups.

Post-workout care

Hearing aids will last longer and work more effectively if you give them the same kind of post-workout care you give the rest of your sporting gear.

  • Clean and inspect your hearing aids daily. Remove the earwax and debris carefully with a wax pick. If you wear BTEs, remove the earmold from the hook and clean with soapy water or disinfectant wipes. Force moisture from the tubing with a puffer and dry overnight. If your hearing center didn’t provide you with a cleaning kit when you purchased your devices, you can order one online where prices range from $14-$40.
  • Invest in a hearing aid dehumidifier. These inexpensive devices remove moisture and sanitize hearing aids and cochlear implants and are a safe place to store them while you sleep. Online prices range from $5-$80.

Summary

A 2012 global study conducted by Hear the World Foundation revealed that 70 percent of hearing aid wearers say they wear their devices during sporting activities without a problem. And, 37 percent of users say wearing hearing aids makes sports more enjoyable. If wearing your hearing aids during recreation can improve your safety and personal enjoyment, maybe this is the summer to give it a try. 

If you have specific questions about wearing your hearing aids during your favorite sports or hobbies, your hearing care professional can help. They will also show you the best way to keep your hearing aids in top shape, no matter what activities you enjoy.

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