Nearly everyone likes listening to a good tune. Friedrich Nietzsche once said, “Without music, life would be a mistake.” When you walk to the gym in the morning, do you put your headphones on and listen to some music to wake yourself up? What about when you’re biking to work, walking to the cafeteria on your lunch break or just heading to a friend’s house? You’ve probably done at least one of these things in the last year, if not more. With music on phones or MP3 players, it’s very common for us to listen when we’re walking to break up the boredom. However, it’s not without risk of our lives.
Music can be a great motivator for any workout. Often, the right playlist can do a lot to keep our blood pumping and set the tempo for exercise. Runners, Cyclist and bikers especially tend to use music and even audiobooks and podcasts to keep them company through their routines. However, wearing headphones can bring a lot of risks for runners, cyclists and bikers.
Even going for a walk requires a lot of attention if we’re going to be around roadways. We need to worry about other pedestrians, what drivers on the road are doing, plus pay attention to anything else in our immediate surroundings. Crossing the street can become a dangerous experience because, even if we’re obeying traffic signals, there’s no guarantee that everyone on the road is doing the same.
As children, we’re taught to look both ways and listen while crossing the street. Listening is a key component to keeping us safe. The sound of an approaching car, a blaring horn, or someone shouting can serve as the warning needed to react safely. Wearing headphones cuts off our vital sense of hearing; we become able to only listen to what we’ve chosen, not the world around us. By cutting off one of our senses, we lose one of our most powerful tools to stay alert.
According to one study, a full 68% of who were killed or injured in accidents while wearing headphones were men. 67% of those individuals were under 30 years old. In about 70% of these accidents, the individual who was hit passed away. The vast majority of the accidents a full 90% happened in cities.
Some steps that can insure our safety
- With the potential for accidents while wearing headphones outdoors, we should take some steps to protect our safety. Some ways that we can accomplish this are:
- Only wear a headphone in one ear. Instead of closing off both ears, leaving one open can give you a better scope of the world around you.
- Don’t wear noise canceling headphones. Many headphones are noise-cancelling, which allows users to hear less of the world around them and more of the sound in their headphones. While this is great for people trying to cut off distracting sounds while working or enjoying music, it’s not so great for runners.
- Look into phone apps. If you listen to music through your phone, look through apps and see if any adjust the level of your sound. Apps such as Awareness! for iPhone balance the amount of sound from headphones to let runners hear their surroundings.
- Use on-ear workout headphones. While most headphones these days fit directly in the ear, other pairs sit on top of the ear instead. On-ear workout headphones stay on the ear while running but open your ability to hear ambient sounds.
- Keep the volume low. No matter how much that workout song gets you in the mood to exercise, playing it too loud will also drown out the sounds around you. Besides keeping you alert, turning down the volume will also prevent possible hearing damage
There is one other option for headphone which is much safer and works on bone conduction technology. In this technology, the sound gets transported through our skull bones, directly into the inner ear. Sounds complicated? Well, it may surprise you but bone conduction is in fact, a natural process, taking place every time we speak. Bone conduction has a number of benefits compared to our headphones, such as the fact that we don’t need an in-ear or over-ear headphone. This way we can listen to music or other audio without having to miss the ambient sounds and damaging our ears. So if we are driving, running or jogging, we can still listen to the horn of the vehicles approaching us. This way we can keep ourselves safe and also enjoy our music. We at WeHear, are developing the products using similar technology which ensures that your ear health is not compromised and safe for day to day usage.
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