When it comes to purchasing workout gear there are three things to look for: comfort, performance and durability. And finding the perfect headphones are just as important as wearing the right sneakers.
According to the American Council on Exercise, “important factors to consider when selecting headphones include fit, acoustics, portability, compatibility with your music player and if they stay on while you are exercising.” Another important factor is the material of earbud covering: I’ve found earbuds that have a rubberized covering instead of the flimsy material which always seems to disintegrate after sweaty workouts.
With lots of different headphones on the market, here’s what you need to know to find the perfect style for your workout:
A lot of runners gravitate towards over-the-ear style headphones like the UltraFit collection from Polk Audio (Starting at $40; Yahoo! Shopping) and Yurbuds’s Ironman Endure ($29.99, yurbud.com). This style helps keep the ear buds in place. However, sometimes I’ll pick up a bouncing sound. The Sennheiser sport neckband headphones ($59.99, sennheiserusa.com) received rave reviews on fit, durability and ease of wear on a few running discussion boards I occasionally read for advice. My current running headphones of choice are the flat, blinged-out jazz buds earbuds (meaning they are placed over, not in, the ear canal) from BodyRock Sport ($16, bodyrocksport.com).
Listening to your playlist underwater is possible. While you’ll have to find a water-proof covering for you music device, there are plenty of headphones designed for water aerobics, swimming or triathlons. H2O Audio’s Surge Pro headphones (Starting at $52; Yahoo! Shopping), are designed to handle submersion up to 12 feet (or just an extra sweaty workout). These headphones use a canal bud style meaning the earbuds go directly into the ear canal. While this style tends to produce exactly sound quality, you have to be extra careful with volume levels. Another waterproof option, FINIS: SwimMP3, a waterproof MP3 player which transfer sound through patented bone-conduction sound transfer technology… meaning no ear buds at all ($159.99, finisinc.com)
Tony Horton of P90X loves the sound quality and comfort level of Zippearz Nouveau Ear Buds (he talks about them on his curated Opensky shop). It's the first ear bud style to offer bass and treble controls (so you can play DJ mid-workout!) and comes with three different sized ear gels as well as an adjustable ear loop to make a customized fit.
To help combat hearing loss, the 60/60 rule is a popular mantra to follow: Don't listen to music above 60 percent of max volume and limit music-listening sessions to 60 minutes. Look for noise-cancelling headphones--they block outside noises so you don't have to crank up the volume as much to hear your music.
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