We all know that exercise is good for you. From keeping off the extra pounds, to improving heart health, and even boosting your mood — staying active can improve nearly every aspect of your health. And, as it turns out, that includes your eyes and vision.
Several important studies over the past decade have provided concrete evidence for the notion that exercise is a powerful tool for preventing and managing serious eye conditions. And that’s great news, especially because blindness and vision impairment are on the rise, due in large part to these three conditions:
Glaucoma is the medical name for damage to the optic nerve. This is usually caused by high pressure in the eyes, and can be particularly devastating because once the nerves connecting your retina to your brain have been damaged, the eyesight lost cannot be regained. Fortunately, if the warning signs of glaucoma are detected on time, medicine and regular treatment can help control its effect. Healthy changes in lifestyle can also have a big impact. Studies have shown that people who exercise on a regular basis are significantly less likely to develop glaucoma than those who don’t, for example. Because high blood pressure is a big risk factor for glaucoma, eating healthier and reducing stress can also help.
This condition results in cloudy vision — and can be caused by a number of factors, from injury, to illness, to simple old age. Because obesity, hypertension, and uncontrolled diabetes are all risk factors, though, exercise can help limit your risk for developing cataracts. Also, some scientists think that exercise helps prevent cataracts by increasing good cholesterol, as well. One thing is for certain: there is a strong correlation between exercising more and enjoying a reduced risk for cataracts.
Age-Related Macular Degeneration, or AMD as it is oftentimes called, is the leading cause of vision impairment and blindness, affecting more people than cataracts and glaucoma put together. As the name implies, AMD is strongly correlated with age — however, as with other the conditions listed above, general good health can greatly reduce your risk. This is related in part to the flow of oxygen-rich blood to the eyes, which is improved with exercise.
Getting Started on Your Exercise Routine
Remember: even if you are not currently suffering from any of the conditions above, regular exercise can still help! It’s very easy to fall into the “it could never happen to me” mindset, but the truth is that prevention is always better than the cure. Moreover, small improvements in your lifestyle can impact virtually every aspect of your health, including eye health. So what are you waiting for? Find a workout buddy, make a plan, and get started on a new, healthier lifestyle today!