You’ve heard it time and time again, exercise benefits you in a plethora of ways: your heart, mood and energy levels all are boosted for starters. But did you know that it has also been shown to benefit your eye health?
Several studies over the years have shown that your risk of developing eye disease decreases if you exercise regularly.
Why Does Exercise Benefit Your Eyes?
When our bodies are exercising, our endocrine system is stimulated. When stimulated, it releases hormones and chemicals that are important in helping to control various cellular functions in the body. The endocrine glands also produce antioxidants, which help to fight off the effect of free radicals in your body and eyes.
Free radicals are known to cause many eye diseases and issues, including glaucoma, cataracts, dry eye, diabetic retinopathy, low vision, and age related macular degeneration.
But What if You Already Have An Eye Disease?
Exercise not only helps to prevent eye disease, but it also helps to manage the disease after onset.
According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, “Moderate physical exercise, like going for a walk three times a week, can lower your intraocular pressure (IOP) and improve blood flow to the retina and optic nerve.” It is important to note however, that consistency is key when managing your glaucoma through exercise. If your exercise regime is halted, your IOP will return to previous levels.
Exercise will also help diabetics manage their disease better and prevent diabetic retinopathy (the leading cause of blindness in working adults). Being physically active makes your body more sensitive to insulin and also helps to control blood sugar levels.
What Type of Exercise Should You Do?
You don’t need to sign up and train for an Iron Man to reap the benefits of exercise. Brisk walking, zumba, riding your bike, dancing, hiking, all count as exercise and will help you to maintain your eye and full body health. Essentially, anything that gets your heart rate up and your body moving counts.
The best type of exercise is the exercise that you will actually do. Maybe you enjoy using your elliptical for 30 minutes while watching a show a couple times a week, or taking a local dance class, or walking your dog. Consistency is key, so choose an activity that you will enjoy and will get you moving!
Exercise will benefit you in a multitude of ways. In regards to your eye health, exercise has been shown to stave off eye disease and also to help manage eye disease. If you don’t regularly exercise, start small. A couple of brisk walks a week will pay off dividends down the road if done consistently.