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Sign Language Studies
American Annals of the Deaf
Living and Learning with Hearing Loss
The President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports recommends
that adults get thirty minutes of exercise at least five days
a week, but you can incorporate chores such as yard work and
walking your dog into that allotment to reach the half-hour goal.4
Here are some ideas to get you started and keep you motivated.
Nutrition and Hearing Loss
- Pick activities that you enjoy and that don’t demand a lot of
listening. Swimming, stationary cycling, walking, and weight
training are good choices. Strive for a balance of cardiovascular
training (aerobics), strength training (weights and other
resistance exercises), and stretching or relaxation (such as yoga
or tai chi) each week.
- Keep in mind that guided meditation tapes can be a source of
stress instead of relaxation to people with hearing loss. Watch a captioned yoga
workout tape straight through without doing
the routine to get the basic ideas. Then, give the poses and
breathing techniques a try.
- Consider trying out home workout DVDs. Dozens are closed-captioned,
and just about every type of workout is available
in this medium, from kickboxing to stability ball routines. You
can’t beat the convenience of working out at home, and most
workouts give excellent instruction so that you can exercise
safely using the proper techniques. Many of these DVDs are
available from online rental services or at your local library, so
you can try several at low or no cost.
- Be extra-vigilant when exercising near traffic. During your
walks, runs, or bicycling workouts wear fluorescent clothing
with reflective tape, and make eye contact with drivers before
you cross the street. Avoid working out whenever visibility is
reduced, such as during heavy commute hours, at sunrise and
sunset, at night, or when the weather is foggy or rainy. Carry a
flashlight or wear a headlamp if you must be outside after dark.
- Don’t forget that classes at gyms and fitness centers can be
problematic when you have a hearing loss because you won’t
always—or even consistently—hear the instructions. I was
almost decapitated once during a martial arts class years ago
because I didn’t hear the instructor shout, “Sara, roundhouse
kick behind you!” until what turned out to be his fourth
attempt to get me to hear him, and nobody in the room was
happy. A few sweaty souls looked at me like I was from
another planet. Since then, I have used the gym mostly for solo
training, saving myself and scores of innocent people from
injury. I do the riskier activities—anything involving kicks and
punches in particular—at home.
- Keep an exercise journal with your workout progress or note
your workouts on your calendar. Write down what you like
doing the most, what is problematic, and how you feel after
each exercise period.
- Be proud of yourself for your fitness accomplishments!
Good nutrition is essential no matter what your hearing status is, but when you
are getting fit, eating right takes on even more importance. Your doctor or
nurse practitioner can give you guidance on what you need specifically, but in
general, eat balanced meals, stay away from too much junk, and drink lots of
water. Try not to eat for an hour or two before your workout, but get some
healthy food into your body soon after you finish an exercise session.
Is there a correlation between nutrition and hearing loss? Research is limited
in this area, but scientists conducting studies reported by the National
Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders have discovered that
some micronutrients may help prevent noise-induced hearing loss when taken
before exposure to loud noises, such as concerts. Vitamin E, vitamin C,
magnesium, and beta-carotene are thought to be responsible for preventing the
While preventing hearing loss by avoiding loud noises or by wearing ear
protection are still the best ways to protect your hearing, taking advantage of
new knowledge from nutritional researchers can also help enhance your life.
Check with your doctor for advice before taking supplements, as they may
interact with your medicines or exacerbate existing conditions.
Tips to Avoid Stress and Nurture Your Spirit
- Remove your hearing aids or speech processor before you brush or comb
your hair—these devices are very easy to damage.
- Take off hearing aids and cochlear implant speech processors before
using shaving cream, face cream, lotion, or makeup— all of these products
can damage your equipment, necessitating costly repairs.
- When using hair gel, spray, pomade, leave-in conditioners, and related
products, make sure that your hair is completely dry before you put on your
hearing aids or speech processor.
- Shower or bathe at night, to prevent wet ears in the morning. You can
also blow-dry your ears before putting on your hearing aids or speech
processors. Showering at night can also temporarily mask tinnitus symptoms
and help you get to sleep.
- Brush your teeth with warm water at night to help you relax and with
cold water in the morning to help get you going.
- Try using a hair clip or bobby pin to secure the coil cable to your hair
if you wear your hair loose or down. People who use a cochlear implant can
go bonkers trying to find hairstyles that won’t knock off the magnet.
Ponytails work well for men and women.
- Make sure any headgear fits comfortably over your hearing aids or speech
processors. Baseball caps and bike helmets may need to be adjusted to feel
secure and be comfortable.
- Buy clothes with your ears in mind. Zippered sweatshirts are more
convenient than are hooded designs or other pullovers, and button-down
shirts won’t knock off ear hardware.
- Be aware of the effect that air temperature can have on your hearing
devices. Some cochlear implant speech processors can malfunction or stop
working when the temperature drops below about fifty degrees Fahrenheit (ten
degrees Celsius). I wear a snowcap to keep my processor warm on days that
are chilly. Otherwise, it sounds like I am trying to receive transmissions
- Rest on one side when taking a nap, with your hearing aid or speech
processor worn on the other side.
- Use a blow dryer or a soft towel to dry off your ears and nearby scalp
after your workout since sweat can affect the performance of a hearing aid
or speech processor.
- If you swim, use caution when strapping goggles over your cochlear
implant site—the straps should not be too tight. Brightly colored swimming
ear plugs will keep water out of your ears and signal to others that you
won’t be able to hear them well.
- When you go to a barber or hair salon, explain to your stylist that you
cannot wear your devices while she or he is cutting your hair. Get all
questions answered before you take out your ears, especially before
no-turning-back decisions like getting a new hair color or cutting off
several inches of your tresses. Most stylists are trained to talk to you by
looking at you in the mirror, so you shouldn’t have to turn your head to
speechread. Have a pad of paper and a pen available for questions during
- Eliminate obvious stressors when you can—don’t bother, for example, to
try and listen to the sound effects in a bowl of crispy rice cereal.
- Keep a “health log” for a month. Record foods, activities, and
interactions that most strongly (and weakly) affect how you feel afterward.
Note how many hours you sleep and how you feel right before getting into bed
and right after you wake up. See if you can find patterns in how you feel
and the duration and quality of your nightly rest.