Here's Why You Should Think Twice About Exercising With Headphones On

Is putting earbuds in or headphones on the first part of your exercise routine? Do you feel like you wouldn't be able to work out without the music or podcast your listening to? Listening to your favorite workout music can help keep you motivated, but there are several reasons you should drop this habit, starting with your health and safety. 

You've heard of distracted driving and know using your phone while driving is dangerous, right? Well, so is blasting your favorite workout tunes, no matter what type of headphones you're using. Ditching those headphones (or significantly turning down the volume) is especially important if you're running outside. You need to be aware of your surroundings, and you can't do that if you can't hear what's going on around you. You need to be mindful of the traffic, the people around you, and what's happening. 

Driving went down in 2020, but pedestrian deaths went up because of distracted driving, speeding, and impaired driving, according to HealthDay. Just like running at night without reflective gear is dangerous, so is running with headphones on (via MapMyRun and Road Runners Club of America). 

Using headphones while you're working out can distract you from how your body is feeling, too, so it's time to pay attention. 

Headphones distract you from your workout

You might be feeling good with those upbeat tunes playing in your ears during your workout, but are you paying attention to your body? Your form? Probably not. You're distracted from the experience of exercising. You could lose out on some of those endorphins that make you feel good and help you push yourself. And you may be less likely to pay attention to your form, putting yourself at a higher risk for injuries. 

Instead of listening to music during your workout, try using music to pump you up beforehand. Play your workout playlist at home while you're warming up or in the car on the way to the gym. Then, leave the headphones at home so you can focus on your exercises. Pay attention to your heart rate, your muscles, your form, and how you are feeling. 

It's also courteous to other gym members who might be able to hear your music, especially if you're cranking it up. They'll be distracted and probably annoyed. Using headphones regularly can also put you at risk for hearing problems (News24 and GQ). 

Headphones can cause hearing problems

Listening to anything on headphones regularly can put you at risk for developing hearing problems, especially if you like to crank up the volume. In a 2010 study, researchers compared hearing loss in adolescents from 1988 to 1994 and 2005 to 2006. They found that hearing loss was more significant in the 2005 to 2006 group. It's reasonable to connect that with more devices with earbuds or headphones. 

The American Osteopathic Association (AOA) points out that hearing loss in teens has increased by about 30 percent from about 20 years ago. The problem is a combination of how loud the headphones can get and how close they are to your ears. This type of hearing loss is irreversible, so take some precautions to prevent it.

Use a 60/60 rule for headphones — keep the max volume at 60 percent or lower and listen for no longer than 60 minutes each day. The louder the noise, the quicker it can cause hearing loss. For example, iPod earbuds can produce 112 decibels at max volume, causing damage to your hearing in just minutes. But if that volume is reduced to 60 percent, you'll be fine (via Oklahoma Hearing Center and CNET). 

Bottom line? For your health and safety, it's best to leave the headphones off while you're working out. But if you have to have that music or podcast, keep your volume low. Sticking to these guidelines can reduce your risk of injury, help you stay safe on the road, and protect your hearing.