You already know exercising benefits your heart and lungs, burns fat, and tones your muscles, but did you know it can improve your eye health? Regular exercise both directly and indirectly helps your eyes.
1. Preventing Vision Loss
According to WebMD, macular degeneration is one of the leading causes of vision loss for people over 60 in the United States. The vision loss happens when the middle of the retina (the macula) starts to break down. The deterioration usually happens with age, and rarely leads to complete blindness. It does, however, lead to significant vision loss.
Doctors have no cure for macular degeneration, but researchers have noticed that regular exercise can slow the deterioration of the eye’s macula. If you’re new to making exercise a part of your daily routine, you can start by participating in yoga, running on an elliptical for five minutes a day and increasing little by little, and doing pushups. Exercise isn’t all about keeping your body tone. It’s about keeping your body, including your eyes, fully functioning. Just make sure that you’re staying hydrated and taking redox supplements, like the one ASEA talks about on YouTube.
2. Protection from Eye Disease
Although there hasn’t been a vast amount of studies on the subject, the limited evidence researchers do have suggests that regular exercise can also help prevent cataracts. One theory for how this happens is that exercise increases the production of high density lipoproteins (HDL), also known as “good” cholesterol. A cataract occurs when the lens of the eye becomes foggy or opaque due to inflammation and oxidation. The HDLs help reduce both inflammation and oxidation.
Glaucoma is another disease that leads to vision loss by damaging the optic nerve behind the eye. When you exercise regularly, the physical activity keeps your blood pressure low, which lowers the pressure on your optic nerve.
3. More Indirect Effects
Exercise lowers the risk of Cardio Vascular Diseases (CVD). CVDs are accompanied by a lot of health risks in relation to the eye. When you exercise regularly and lower your chance of CVD, you also lower your risk of getting an eye disease related to CVDs. Some of these diseases may include xanthelasma (yellow patches around the eye), and general vision loss.
The same applies for obesity. Obesity increases the risk of both vision loss and of diabetes, which can lead to diabetic retinopathy.
Anyone who spends a lot of time in front of a computer monitor—like writers or college students—indirectly avoids eye strain through exercise. Any time away from the screen gives the eyes a chance to relax.
4. Eye Exercises
Can you name at least one exercise that works your leg muscles? What about an exercise to increase endurance or strengthen your core? I bet you can rattle off a whole list of options, but can you name any exercises to strengthen your eyes? Here are a few to help you out:
- Eye Rolling – Although rolling your eyes is actually a good eye exercise, it’s not an excuse to start rolling your eyes at people more. Sit upright in a comfortable chair and take a few breaths to relax. Slowly roll your eyes in a circular motion, then switch directions. Don’t forget to blink in between each roll so your eyes stay moistened!
- Dark to Light – Rub your hands together so the friction makes them warm. Then cup them over each eye until you see complete darkness. Keep your eyes covered for a few minutes, then remove your hands. Repeat a few more times. Know that giving your eyes a break like this helps your eyes avoid eye strain.
- Draw with Your Eyes – Sit down in a comfortable, upright position. Look across the room, and trace the outline of what you see with your eyes. For example if you see a curtain, follow the outline and every little crease with your eyes.
- Sobriety Test – Hold your index finger in front of your nose, and focus both your eyes on it. Then move your finger away from your face slowly until your arm is completely extended. Then slowly move it back in. Repeat the exercise with your finger in front of each shoulder.
Whether you are exercising your body to increase eye health or you are exercising your eyes themselves, make sure to keep common safety tips in mind. If you are out in the sun, make sure you have the proper UV protection. If you wear eyeglasses in Edmonton or Edinburg, it can be annoying to find clip-on sunglasses or prescription shaded lenses However, exercising outside without protection leaves your eyes vulnerable to harmful UV rays, which can cause enough damage to negate the benefits of the exercise. So grab your sunglasses and get some exercise!