Having healthy eyes means having a healthy body, right? Everything in our body is connected, so maintaining our overall health is just as important as caring for our eyes. In fact, when you care for your eyesight through your dietary habits, you’re inevitably doing good things for the rest of your body as it needs the same nutrients.
The same can be said about your exercising habits. Though many of us use exercise as a means to lose weight, exercising goes well beyond our vanity. Exercising will help our bodies stay fit. This will help us live longer and be more active.
Exercising also has a significant impact on our vision, especially cardio workouts. Running can help reduce your risk of cataracts. And, a brisk walk may lower your intraocular eye pressure to help prevent glaucoma.
Cataracts are a disease that is common in people above the age of 40. Typically cataracts will affect both eyes, but it is possible that they only affect one eye at a time.
A cataract will cloud the lens of the eye as old protein cells begin to build up. What exactly causes these cells to build up is not known. Experts can’t quite explain why the protein on the lens suddenly clumps together as we age, but they can all agree that it is one of the leading causes of blindness in old age.
The lens lies behind the pupil and the iris, so when a cataract is present, you will see a cloudy or gray spot forming in your iris (the colored part of the eye). This will cloud your central vision. In early stages of the disease, you will experience glare in your vision. As the disease progresses, it can cause total vision loss.
Cataracts can be treated in a variety of ways depending on the level of sight you have left. When a cataract does not prevent you from living your day to day life due to poor vision, then it can be corrected with a strong eyeglass prescription.
However, if you want to improve cataracts naturally, consider what you’re eating. A diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants will help to clear up your vision.
How Running Reduces Your Risk of Cataracts
Running is a great way to stay in shape and a great way to get you outside and moving. A study conducted in 2009 by Paul Williams, PhD, came to the conclusion that men and women can reduce their risk of being diagnosed with cataracts if they are runners.
Studying the activities of 32,000 runners, Williams found that runners were less likely to be diagnosed with cataracts than people whose only form of cardio was walking.
Running isn’t easy for everyone. Some people have weak knees which make it difficult to run. Don’t worry, that doesn’t mean you’ll put yourself at risk. Walking can also reduce your risk of cataracts, says the study, but it won’t be as effective as running.
Glaucoma is another one of the leading causes of blindness in older people. This disease damages the optic nerve and can quickly lead to vision loss if not spotted early. Glaucoma has few warning signs, which is why it is important for your eye doctor to test you for glaucoma regularly after the age of 40.
Glaucoma occurs when there is a buildup of fluid in the eye that cannot be drained out properly. There are two types of ways this can happen. Either the ducts to drain the fluid are blocked or the fluid is being produced too frequently for the ducts to keep up with draining all of it.
When the fluid in the eye builds up, it increases the pressure in the eye (intraocular pressure). The pressure then pushes down on the optic nerve and cause vision impairments.
When caught in its early stages, glaucoma can be treated with eye drops and oral medications. However, when the disease is too far progressed, there is no treatment other than lifestyle changes to adapt to your new vision.
Walking for Glaucoma
According to the Glaucoma Research Foundation, light exercise such as a brisk walk or aerobics can lower your risk of glaucoma. Light exercise such as this can help to increase blood flow in the eye. This will lead to a better balance in intraocular pressure.
Not only can a brisk walk help prevent glaucoma, but it can also ease the symptoms. It will help to reduce the high pressure in the eyes and get the blood flowing all over.
A 20 minute walk or aerobics class is highly recommended for those with glaucoma or those at risk of developing the disease. Stay away from workouts like strength training, as this will only increase your intraocular pressure.
Walking and Running to Improve Overall Vision
For those reading who are much too young to even be thinking of cataracts and glaucoma, running and walking can also improve your overall eyesight.
In a study published in the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, it found a link between heightened vision and exercising. The study found that those who expended more energy seemed to have sharper vision.
Using neuroimaging techniques, the researchers behind the study were able to monitor the effects of exercising on the brain. What they found was that low and high intensity exercise would boost activity in the visual cortex, which is the part of the brain that organizes and comprehends images our eyes send.
If you’ve been a little lazy on the exercising front lately or just don’t feel like exercising because you don’t need to lose weight, do it for your eyes. Ignite your visual cortex by going to a walk through the autumn leaves or a run through the woods.
You’ll not only improve your eyesight, you will also be protecting your eyes from future diseases that could take your vision away altogether. Get moving today!