Why Spin Class Could Be Damaging Your Hearing

iStock
iStock

Diligently dragging yourself to the gym multiple times a week is supposed to have a positive effect on your overall health. According to an investigative report by Vox’s Julia Belluz, however, your choice of exercise might wind up doing more harm than good.

Indoor cycling, also known as spin class, has become a fitness staple in recent years, with people congregating indoors to ride stationary bikes at a tempo and pace set by an instructor. These sessions are often scored by music to help motivate participants. As Belluz found out, that music is sometimes so loud that it threatens to induce early-onset hearing loss in both trainers and trainees.

Belluz measured noise levels at her own fitness studio and found the volume to be in excess of 100 decibels (dB), a dangerously high register that exceeds Department of Labor standards and can be harmful to hearing if exposure lasts longer than 15 minutes. Her finding was in line with a 2016 study that took 17 audio measurements in the Boston area—including major fitness chains—and found that classes regularly rose to the 100 dB level.

Repeated exposure to loud noise can damage the hair cells in the ear that transmit sound to the brain, an injury analogous to grass being bent as it’s being continually walked on. Eventually, the hair cells—like the grass—fail to spring back, leading to hearing loss.

Currently, no workplace safety authority (OSHA, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health) has made any specific spin class-related mandates, though individual sites may face a fine if they’re reported. The best way to mitigate a chance of damage to your hearing is to take sound measurements with a smart phone app and confirm your class isn’t in the 100 dB level. If you’re concerned about the volume, talking to management or wearing earplugs can help buffer the noise pollution.

[h/t Vox]

Drive-Thru Coronavirus Testing Site in Pennsylvania Amish Country Accommodates Horses and Buggies

William Thomas Cain/Stringer/Getty Images
William Thomas Cain/Stringer/Getty Images

One way coronavirus testing centers can encourage social distancing is by testing patients in their vehicles. In Pennsylvania's Amish Country, that includes horses and buggies as well as cars. As CNN reports, a small clinic is accommodating the old-school transportation method in an effort to make tests more accessible to Amish and Mennonite communities.

Most residents of Belleville, Pennsylvania, are Amish or Mennonite—two groups that are uniquely vulnerable to the COVID-19 pandemic. Their cautious approach to technology can result in lower news consumption, which may leave people ill-informed about a crisis that's changing by the day.

Both communities are also tight-knit: a benefit in most times of hardship, but a recipe for tragedy during a pandemic. "When they have church, they have 300 people crowded together in a little farmhouse. From the point of view of an infection like this, this is a disaster," Dr. D. Holmes Morton, founder and medical director of the Central Pennsylvania Clinic in Belleville, told CNN.

Many Amish and Mennonite meetings and church services have been suspended indefinitely, but social distancing is just one part of keeping the communities safe. Testing is also essential to containing the virus, and the Central Pennsylvania Clinic aims to make its tests available to as many people as possible. As one of the few coronavirus testing sites in the area, they're working to test asymptotic patients as well as those who are feeling sick. Research suggests that up to 50 percent of novel coronavirus carriers show no symptoms.

The clinic is not just accommodating Amish and Mennonite patients, but also how they see them. Residents are able to roll up in their horses and buggies and get tested without stepping into the clinic. At least 65 people have used the drive-through (or ride-through) clinic since it opened on April 1.

[h/t CNN]

How to Make a DIY Face Mask at Home—No Sewing Required

Sean Gallup, iStock via Getty Images
Sean Gallup, iStock via Getty Images

By the time the CDC told all Americans to start wearing face coverings to slow the spread of coronavirus in early April, protective masks were already hard to find. The medical-grade masks that are available should be reserved for healthcare workers, which leaves everyone else with limited options for following the updated safety guidelines. Luckily, making your own mask at home is fast, ethical, and cheap—and you don't even need to break out the sewing machine to do it.

This video, posted on Julie Eigenmann's Instagram, illustrates how to make a no-sew face mask using supplies you likely already have at home. Start by folding a square scarf or bandana four times lengthwise to create a strip that's big enough to cover the bottom half of your face. Next, pull each end of the cloth through an elastic hair tie or rubber band (one on the right end and one of the left) so that it's roughly divided into thirds. Fold the ends into the center and tuck one end into the opening of the other to hold it all together. Pull the hair ties over your ears to secure the mask to your face.

To boost your mask's filtration power, place a trimmed coffee filter or paper towel on the cloth where your mouth will go before folding it.

After wearing the mask outdoors, you'll need to disinfect it. Take it apart, throw away the disposable filter, and soak the fabric in soapy water for a few minutes. When the cloth is clean and dry, add a new filter and reassemble the mask as shown above to use it again.

DIY cloth masks are better than nothing when it comes to protecting your face from someone coughing or sneezing nearby. But no mask will make you invincible to COVID-19, and you shouldn't use one as an excuse to act any differently outdoors. Use them on necessary trips outside, like to the grocery store or your essential job, and continue keeping a safe distance from others.

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