How are hearing loss and physical activity related? Analysis from the English longitudinal study of ageing

Prev Med. 2023 Aug:173:107609. doi: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2023.107609. Epub 2023 Jul 7.


Although cross-sectional studies suggest that hearing loss in middle- and older-aged adults is associated with lower physical activity, longitudinal evidence is limited. This study aimed to investigate the potential bi-directional association between hearing loss and physical activity over time. Participants were from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (N = 11,292) who were 50-years or older at baseline assessment (1998-2000). Individuals were followed-up biannually for up to 20-years (2018-2019) and were classified as ever reporting hearing loss (n = 4946) or not reporting hearing loss (n = 6346). Data were analysed with Cox-proportional hazard ratios and multilevel logistic regression. The results showed that baseline physical activity was not associated with hearing loss over the follow-up. Time (i.e., wave of assessment) by hearing loss interactions showed that physical activity declined more rapidly over time in those with hearing loss, compared to those without (Odds Ratios = 0.94, 95% Confidence Intervals; 0.92-0.96, p < .001). These findings highlight the importance of addressing physical activity in middle- and older-aged adults with hearing loss. As physical activity is a modifiable behaviour that can reduce the risk of developing chronic health conditions, individuals with hearing loss may need additional, tailored support to be more physically active. Mitigating the decline in physical activity could be essential to support healthy ageing for adults with hearing loss.

Keywords: Ageing; Chronic health; Epidemiology; Health behaviour; Hearing loss; Physical activity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aging*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Exercise
  • Hearing Loss* / complications
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Middle Aged