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Learn to run without music

For many, a run or bike ride isn't the same without music; however, between 2004 and 2011, the amount of people injured while wearing headphones tripled. Listening to music while exercising can be a great distraction and motivation, but, especially when exercising outdoors, that distraction makes you less aware of your surroundings. You're not able to hear the car driving up the alley and you can be unaware of who is approaching you—both potentially dangerous scenarios. 

Depending on how high you have the volume, your hearing is at risk, too. Headphones at maximum volume are 105 decibels (dB). For reference, normal talking is around 40 to 60 dB and a rock concert is between 110 to 120 dB.

How do we hear?
Sound is a vibration. The sound vibrations move your ear drums, which moves the middle ear bones and the cochlea, where there are thousands of tiny hair cells. Those hair cells change the vibrations into electric signals that are sent to your brain through the hearing nerve. Too loud of a noise, even at 85 dB, damages the hair cells. Currently, there is no way to reverse the damage.

Keeping your ears in mind, here are a few tips to work toward a workout without tunes. 

1. Follow the 60/60 rule.

    Going cold turkey on your playlist can be challenging, so follow the 60/60 rule: limit headphone use to 60 minutes a day at no more than 60 percent of the maximum volume. When you're exercising outdoors, make sure you can hear road noises and are extremely cautious when approaching intersections, alleys or curbs.

    2. Find a buddy.

      Running with a partner or group is a great way to decrease your dependence on music and keep you motivated. Miles seem to go by faster when you're chatting with someone else. Run while your son roller skates with you for some added family activity time. Talking and running is a great indicator of your heart rate and can help you find a breathing pattern.

      3. Save them for the gym.

        Stock pile your favorite podcasts or playlists, and listen to them while on the treadmill. If music is a motivator, this is a great way to make use of your gym membership.

        4. Solve the world's problems.

          Plan your next trip, pick the theme for your daughter's birthday party or think of how to ask for that raise you deserve. Without the distraction of music, it's just you and your thoughts. Take advantage of this alone time and savor it.

          5. Become a better (fill in the blank).

            Really focus on your workout, whether it's conquering hill repeats or a speed work. Without having to worry about your earbuds falling out or headphone wires getting in the way, you can focus on time, pace and recovery.

            6. Opt for over-the-ear.

              Old school headphones are back in style and our ears are happy about it. If you really need to work out with music, choose headphones that rest over your ear instead of earbuds, which play music directly into the ear canal, increasing your risk of infection and hearing loss.

              7. Change up your work out.

                Doing something different will occupy and distract your brain, decreasing the need for music. Try changing up your work out with interval training instead of running or doing the elliptical. For example, one minute sprinting and two minutes jogging.  This will give you a boost in metabolism, keep your brain busy and protect your ears!

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