By Dr S.S. Gill
Ipoh Echo’s EYE HEALTH series continues with Consultant Eye Surgeon Dr S.S. GILL talking to us about EYE BENEFITS from REGULAR EXERCISING.
The benefits of exercise for the body seems endless. Regular physical exercise helps maintain cardiovascular fitness, improves mental alertness, improves the control of diabetes mellitus, helps in weight reduction, reduces stroke incidence, increases good cholesterol or high density lipoprotein (HDL), decreases bad cholesterol, improves our mood by releasing endorphins (“happy” hormones), promotes better sleep, improves muscle strength plus boosts energy thereby preventing lethargy and even helps those with arthritis.
So, does regular physical exercise help the eyes in any way? Well, the answer is a resounding yes! Studies have shown that those who regularly exercise have less chances of developing serious eye diseases. For those who already suffer from glaucoma or diabetes mellitus, studies have shown that it improves the control of these diseases.
A study that was published in the journal of Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science of approximately 5600 individuals, showed that regular physical exercising improved ocular perfusion pressure (OPP) which has a bearing on glaucoma.
In another study of about 3800 individuals, with regards to regular physical exercises and AMD (Age Related Macular Degeneration), it showed that exercising three times a week, reduced the likelihood of such individuals developing AMD.
Exercising also helps control diabetes mellitus better thereby reducing the potential of diabetic retinopathy (eye complications of diabetes mellitus) which is the leading cause of poor vision amongst individuals in the productive age group.
Here is a summary of weekly physical activity for adults aged between 18-64 years recommended by WHO (WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION):
Perform at least 150 MINUTES per week of MODERATE-INTENSITY physical activity OR at least 75 MINUTES OF VIGOROUS-INTENSITY aerobic physical activity per week.
AEROBIC ACTIVITY should be performed in bouts of 10 MINUTES DURATION.
For ADDITIONAL HEALTH BENEFITS, to increase moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity to 300 MINUTES PER WEEK, or perform 150 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity per week.
Be reminded that 150 minutes (two and a half hours) per week is really not long at all. You can simply accumulate your exercise time by doing exercises ten minutes each time to add it up to 150 minutes per week!
MODERATE-INTENSITY PHYSICAL ACTIVITY examples: brisk walking, dancing, gardening, games and sports, carrying or moving loads less than 20kg, walking the pet briskly.
VIGOROUS-INTENSITY PHYSICAL ACTIVITY includes: running, walking fast, climbing briskly, fast cycling, aerobics, fast swimming, competitive sports like soccer, volleyball, hockey and moving heavy loads more than 20kg.
So, get off that couch and start exercising yourself to health! Remember that you do not have to be a sportsman to maintain a reasonable exercise regime. Do take precautions if you are planning to get into some unaccustomed vigorous exercise regime but suffer from serious medical problems. Checking with your doctor before starting would be the right thing to do.