The Surprising Way Taking More Walks Can Help Your Eyesight

We all know that exercise is good for things like our heart, lungs, and metabolism. But what about our vision?

According to the American Heart Association, adults should get at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity per week. It doesn't seem like a brisk daily walk can be that beneficial, but it can actually help in a myriad of ways, including alleviating stress, enhancing mood, increasing energy, improving sleep, and reducing risk of chronic disease. But according to a 2020 study published in Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science, exercise could also help protect against eye damage.

One major cause of vision loss in adults over 50 is macular degeneration, which happens when there's damage to a part of the retina called the macula (via the American Academy of Ophthalmology). The National Eye Institute mentions glaucoma, or damage to the optic nerve, as another cause of vision loss. Diabetic retinopathy, or injury to the retina's blood vessels, can be another source of vision impairment for those with diabetes, per the Mayo Clinic.

A walk a day keeps the eye doctor away

Luckily, research suggests that taking more walks can help maintain good eyesight. In a 2020 study that focused mostly on macular degeneration (AMD), two groups of mice were observed for four weeks. One group had access to an exercise wheel, while the other didn't. Researchers then simulated age-related vision loss, finding that the mice who had exercised had nearly 45% less vision damage than the ones that hadn't. "The new study is exciting because it supports previous findings with laboratory evidence suggesting a link between exercise and prevention of AMD," J. Kevin McKinney, opthalmologist and American Academy of Ophthalmology spokesperson, said.

According to the Glaucoma Research Foundation, moderate exercise on a routine basis can help to lower intraocular pressure, which can damage the optic nerve and lead to vision loss. A regular exercise routine can also safeguard against excess blood vessels, which occurs in macular degeneration, glaucoma, and diabetic retinopathy (via the American Academy of Ophthalmology). Not only that, but it can also help to manage current eye conditions, increasing blood flow to the optic nerve and retina. Now, even your eyes will thank you for that morning stroll.