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Am J Audiol. 2012 Jun;21(1):33-40. doi: 10.1044/1059-0889(2011/11-0024). Epub 2012 Jan 23.

Association between cardiorespiratory fitness and hearing sensitivity.

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Bellarmine University, Louisville, KY, USA.



As a follow-up to previous smaller scale studies, the purpose of the present study was to examine the link between cardiorespiratory fitness and hearing sensitivity using a nationally representative U.S. sample of adults.


Data from the 1999-2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES; U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], 2011) were used in the analyses. After exclusions, the final sample included 1,082 NHANES participants ages 20-49 years. Maximum oxygen uptake (VO(2max)) was obtained from an established nonexercise prediction equation and through heart-rate extrapolation during a treadmill-based submaximal test. Audiometry data were objectively measured to obtain estimates of low (LPTA) and high (HPTA) pure-tone frequency average.


VO(2max) was not associated with hearing sensitivity when using the heart-rate extrapolation method but was significantly associated with hearing sensitivity (for women) when applying the nonexercise prediction equation for both LPTA and HPTA (p < .01). Women with higher predicted cardiorespiratory fitness were 6% more likely than women with lower predicted cardio-respiratory fitness to have good hearing compared to worse hearing.


Cardiorespiratory fitness was associated with hearing sensitivity when using the nonexercise prediction equation to measure VO(2max). Further studies are needed to confirm these findings. Findings suggest a potentially auditory-protective effect of cardiorespiratory fitness.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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