Exercising with Headphones: Helpful or Harmful?

Thursday, June 28, 2007 - 12:21pm

By Michele Silence, MA

You like your headphones. You wear them every time you workout. But what about the panic when you can't get them to work? You feel lost. Can wearing headphones really help you get a better workout or are they just another worthless workout prop? Headphones have definite pluses and minuses. Consider some of the following and then decide whether you still want to wear them or not.

Wearing headphones can impair your hearing

The biggest safety factor in wearing headphones is that hearing can be damaged by constant loud pounding sounds. Add to that the fact that you will not be able to hear anything that people around you are saying. Car engines, horns, and even fast-moving bikes can really injure you if you cannot hear them coming and are not prepared to get out of the way.

Equipment can distract you from your workout and dangers

While you are toying with the batteries, wires, and adjusting the fit, you could find yourself not attending to important environmental hazards. If you are outdoors, it could mean stepping into a pothole, tripping over a curb, or twisting an ankle on a stone. Inside you could get hurt just as seriously on a moving machine.

Headphones can deprive you of social contact

If you need to be alone, do not want to talk to anyone, and like to focus on what is going on inside of you, headphones can be a blessing. You have a visible excuse for not being sociable--an instant way out. If you want to meet people and share experiences though, headphones will deprive you of many opportunites. Others see them as a sign to be quiet and stay away. Some of those "others" may make great friends and workout buddies, but you won't find out if you are not approachable.

Other senses can take a backseat if you wear a headset

When you wear a headset, your other senses will fade into the background. You may not notice the sights around you or smell things very sharply. Let yourself enjoy these other sensations while you are escaping into your world of sound. Be extra cautious when wearing your headset and falling into the inner trance you have created. This is a place where your safety is at risk.

If you are going to wear headphones of any type, be sure to put them on, adjust them, and make sure everything is in working order before you begin your exercise session. Keep the music volume at a level where you can still hear what is happening around you so your hearing is not damaged. Finally, to really get a great workout, make sure you are listening to non-stop music that motivates you. Your workout will get a boost while you stay safe.