I promise this is not a New Year’s Resolution rehash, but I am going to talk about exercise. We all know that exercise makes us feel better (when we sit down to rest). It gets our blood pumping. It gets our lungs working more effectively. It super-charges our brain chemistry. It makes our clothes fit better. It improves our posture. The list of good things exercise does for us just seems to go on and on. If we could just get up and do it… (Not a Nike reference.)
So, how does all this fit in with hearing? Good question! Hear’s what the latest research is turning up. (Two hearing related puns in one sentence!) Dr. Nina Kraus out of Northwestern University has discovered athletes have better speech processing abilities than age and gender related non-athlete control subjects. What that means to all of us with hearing loss and difficulty understanding speech in background noise is that some physical activity might very well help us to improve the processing centers in the brain that are related to speech understanding!
Athletes are very focused on the task at hand. They are striving to perfect one aspect at a time. This takes away from their extended focus on what is going on around them. Speech in noise … the athlete is able to focus on the speech and ignore what’s going on in the background better than their non-athletic counterparts. This is not something they learn. It is something that happens due to the way their brains work. I’m not saying we all need to become professional basketball players, but it might not hurt to take a walk. Maybe I’ll go to the gym tonight and see what they have going on over there.