Regular workouts help keep your heart strong and reduce risk of obesity, diabetes, and other major health concerns, but hitting up the gym on a regular basis can also be good for your eyes.
Research shows that regular physical activity can help reduce the risk of several eye conditions including: age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma, and diabetic retinopathy.
Age-related macular degeneration—the leading cause of severe vision loss in people over 60—causes vision loss as the light-sensitive cells or neurons in the macula begin to fail.
One study published in the British Journal of Opthalmology found that people are physically active may be as much as 70 percent less likely to develop AMD than people who are sedentary. Why? Exercise reduces inflammation in the body, including inflammation in the blood vessels in the eyes. Regular exercise may also slow aging, therefore reducing one’s risk of this age-related eye condition.
Glaucoma is characterized by an increase in ocular pressure in the eye. People who get regular exercise are less likely to experience a buildup in pressure. One study found that people who did regular, moderate physical activity were 25 percent less likely to develop glaucoma than people who were less active.
Routine exercise can also help people who have already developed the eye condition, as moderate exercise helps to lower intraocular pressure and improve blood flow to the retina.
Diabetic retinopathy is common among diabetics and is the leading cause of blindness in adults. Regular exercise can help prevent diabetes and help keep the condition under control for people who have already been diagnosed. Managing diabetes through regular exercise and a healthy diet is key in preventing the development of diabetic retinopathy.
How Much Exercise Do You Need?
The American Heart Association recommends that adults get at least 150 minutes—or 30 minutes, five days a week— of moderate intensity physical activity (such as brisk walking) every week. Make regular exercise a priority for your overall health, including the health of your eyes.