Wednesday, August 17, 2011

30 Days of Blogging: Earbuds=Danger??

Blaring Britney or Ke$ha can help you climb killer hills or push through that last 15 minutes of your workout. But recent research shows that a reliance on earbuds while exercising may hurt your health in surprising ways.

By now, most of us have learned to curb the urge to update our status, fix our makeup, drink our Starbucks, and shout, "I'm running late!" texts while behind the wheel. But we still zone out to music or fiddle with our iThings while running or biking. The problem? Distracted exercising may come with risks just like to those of distracted driving: Last year for the first time in four years, pedestrian deaths rose. And experts are blaming our beloved, can't-live-without-'em gadgets.

The result? Some state lawmakers are cracking down on exercising multitasking. Example? In New York, a pending bill will make it illegal for joggers to use any kind of electronic device while crossing the street. Oregon and Virginia have pending measures where, if passed, would fine bicyclists as much as $90 for riding "under the influence" of technology. Sure, these proposed pieces of paper may not come to fruition, however, they make one thing clear: Tuning out during a workout can be very hazardous to your health.

Hear No Evil

35% of Women's Health readers claim to always listen to music when working out outdoors and that their music is essential. Music can distract you fitness peeps from hearing other sounds and noises such as a car or, even worse, an approaching stranger. When listening to music, your thought process is overcome by the lyrics, beat, and "feel good" mood that comes along with it. A song can send you into a spiraling daydream which could effect how your brain perceives images as you pass them by. All in all? Music pulls you away from reality enough to increase your risk of running into a dangerous situation...literally.

Press Pause

Stan Beecham, a sport psychologist, claims, "Many people exercise while listening to music because they don't want to think about how uncomfortable they feel. But being distracted severs connection between your body and mind, so you're no longer tuned in to the subtle signals your body relays, like when it's ready to speed up and when it needs to slow down." Our flight-or-fight response is controlled by our sympathetic nervous system, which apparently, is what music stimulates. So that "pumped up" feeling you get when a great song comes on, is real; hence that extra boost you get to make it up that hill or cross a finish line. Muting our brain to what your body is trying to tell you can also increase your risk for injury. Minor pain stimulants may not get to you as fast if you are in the zone. Having too much separation anxiety from your tunes? A few simple adjustments can make exercising more effective and safer for you while still jamming.

Please Don't Stop the Music

>Make a Playlist
     Hit play before you take off and don't look down at it again. Fiddling with your iPod or other mp3 player causes you to lose another sense of yours: sight. Need to make an adjustment? Stop moving to make it safer for yourself.

>Upgrade Your Earphones

     Many people think that running with one earbud in instead of two is safer. Wrong. The brain depends on both ears to determine which direction a noise is coming from. Auria earphones sit on the outer part of your ear without blocking the ear canal.

>Use as Needed

     Try using music for the challenging part of your workout to give you that extra "oomph" needed to push yourself through. Try listening to songs between 120 and 145 beats per minute like these:

"This Time (Dirty Bit)" Black Eyed Peas- 128 bpm
"Lights On" Katy B ft. Ms. Dynamite- 129 bpm
"Barbra Streisand" Duck Sauce- 130 bpm
"Happiness" Alexis Jordan- 129 bpm

> Go Instrumental

     Wordless songs may be the answer if you definitely need that background noise. Because that's just what it becomes so you can still be aware of your surroundings.

"Complication"- Nine Inch Nails
"Any Colour You Like"- Pink Floyd
"Bron-Yr-Aur Stomp"- Led Zeppelin
"Lord Leopard"- Caribou
"Black Mud"- The Black Keys
"Pink Batman"- Dan Deacon
"Blue Mountain Hop"- Bela Fleck

(*Thank you Women's Health for help with this post!)

Now I must admit, I am one you will catch with earbuds stuffed into my ears blasting rock or rap to keep me motivated through my runs or strength exercises. However, seeing it from this point of view makes me want to think twice...

Are you a "music must-have"?? What thoughts do you have about the dangers of earbuds??

Be safe out there everyone. We want you to be able to see the next day...on your own two feet...

Until the next step bloggers...

1 comment:

  1. While I *totally* admire all those naked know, the ones who run without Garmin watches, iPods, and other techy things...I am NOT one of them. I love my gadgets. I know they are distracting, but I fear that, without them, my severe ADHD would take over and I would never make it through my run. To compensate and make my runs as safe as possible, I try to run in my neighborhood (which isn't busy to traffic at all) or around a local lake (on the right hand side, where I'm always turning to the right).