There’s no doubt that exercise will benefit your overall health. Staying active can prevent a myriad of illnesses and disease. It can ward off obesity, heart disease, arthritis; help lower blood sugar levels in diabetics; and lower your risk of back pain.
Did you know that frequent exercise can also directly impact your vision health? Exercise is a crucial part of maintaining good vision throughout your life. Not only will frequent exercise keep you fit, it will also keep your vision health in check.
Studies have shown that people who exercise regularly will lower their risk of developing age-related disease in their old age.
An eye-healthy diet and active lifestyle are essential for maintaining healthy eyes. Here’s how you can use your exercise routine to benefit your eyes.
High Intensity Cardio to Fight Glaucoma
Glaucoma is a common eye disease that is caused by high fluid pressure in the eye. It is very common among people above the age of 60. It is the leading cause of blindness around the world.
As the intraocular pressure rises, it slowly damages the optic nerve. The optic nerve is the part of the eye that sends impulses from the eye to the brain to make out coherent images. When the optic nerve becomes damaged, the damage is irreversible.
There is no treatment for glaucoma. The best treatment is prevention. That’s where exercise comes in.
According to a study by the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), people who are physically active have a 73 percent lower risk of developing glaucoma. In addition, the same study found that people who exercise at a higher intensity are at a lower risk than those who exercise at a low intensity.
Performing your favorite cardio routine three to four times a week may be all that you need to prevent glaucoma. When exercising, always exercise caution. Listen to your body.
Never start at a high intensity whether you are distance running, cycling, dancing or using the elliptical. Start slow and work your way up to a high intensity routine.
That being said, high intensity cardio can pose a danger to your eyes if you already have glaucoma. A workout routine that is too intense may actually worsen the pressure in the eye. If you have glaucoma, stick to low intensity activities such as speed walking.
Moderate Walks for Cataracts
In 2013, a study published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information found that moderate walks could be linked to a decreased risk of developing cataracts.
Cataracts are another age-related disease that will affect almost all people by the time they turn 80. It is a debilitating disease that can cause low vision and total blindness. People living with cataracts often find themselves becoming dependent on others and lose their independence.
Cataracts form when protein begins to build up on the lens of the eye. When this happens, it begins to cloud a person’s vision. The cataracts become visible in the pupil of the eye. You’ll notice a gray clouding over the black part of the eye. As the disease progresses, the gray cloud will spread over the iris (colored part of the eye).
There is no cure for cataracts. Currently, it can be treated through sticking to a special diet. Otherwise surgery is also an option, but is incredibly invasive and may require a complete lens transplant. In many cases, patients have developed cataracts on their new lenses soon after the surgery.
In the same vein as glaucoma, the best way to treat cataracts is to prevent them from ever forming. There are several ways to do this through diet alone, but regular exercise may also decrease your risk.
According to the aforementioned study, after observing participants for six years, they found that those who walked and ran as exercise did not develop cataracts.
The study suggests that there is a direct link between moderate walks and vigorous running to lowered cataract risks. Why does cardio lower your risk of cataracts? The answer to this is still unknown. We need more research to fully understand the link.
For now we have to go off of what information we have. We can say for sure that walking and running can lower your risk of developing cataracts.
Exercises for Other Eye Diseases
Age-related macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy are two other diseases that may also be prevented through exercises. The link between these diseases and exercise is not as strong as glaucoma and cataracts.
Scientists still need to do more research on the topic and conduct more human trials. However, researchers are confident that exercise can contribute to preventing these diseases.
Exercising keeps your body younger for longer. It would only make sense that frequent exercise should slow down the process of age-related macular degeneration. The cells in your eyes will be stronger and healthier if you exercise.
As for diabetic retinopathy, exercise helps regulate blood sugar levels. When a diabetic’s blood sugar levels are in check, they reduce their risk of developing diabetic retinopathy. This is an eye disease that is directly linked to unregulated and high blood sugar levels.
The links between exercising and these two eye diseases are not as direct as it is for glaucoma and cataracts. However, this doesn’t mean that exercising won’t help to prevent these two debilitating diseases as you age.
The next time you make excuses to not go to the gym, remember that you have to exercise for your own greater good. Exercise shouldn’t be about how it makes you physically look.
Exercise is about how it makes you feel. Leading an active lifestyle will be more rewarding in the long run. And incorporating the right vitamins and nutrients into your daily diet will add to the awesome benefits. You’ll find that you have more energy and you’ll feel healthier. On top of that, you’ll also workout knowing that you’re doing a lot of good for your vision health.
Remember to make yearly appointments with your eye doctor for a full eye health assessment. A comprehensive eye exam will find diseases like glaucoma, cataracts, macular degeneration, and diabetic retinopathy.