Exercise, Diet, and Your Eyes!

May 8, 2013

We all need to make healthy approaches to our daily lives. While we, as a general rule, have a vast amount of nutritious foods available, our approach to our dietary health is not what it should be. In our busy lives it is very easy to be undernourished in vital minerals and vitamins while simultaneously being over-nourished in fats, carbohydrates, and sugars. While it is advisable to discuss any dietary or exercise changes with your primary doctor, most people can benefit from reducing dietary fats and sugars.

Promoting your eye health begins with your diet. Diets with adequate amounts of Omega-3s, Lutein, Zinc, and Vitamins C and E may reduce macular degeneration and early cataract development. Diets high in green, leafy vegetables and low-glycemic fruits can be especially beneficial, not only for diabetics, but also for the majority of people seeking to approach their health proactively. Taking a Mediterranean approach to eating (one where olive oil, natural fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are promoted) can not only be healthy for your eyes, it can be healthy for your heart! In the coming months, we’ll look at the Mediterranean diet in depth; stay tuned!

Making the choice to keep active is the first step in keeping healthy. While many patients have limitations on what type of exercise they can safely do, almost everyone is able to do some form of exercise. Often, the difference between a healthy adult and an unhealthy adult is 30 minutes of daily exercise. While checking with a medical professional prior to beginning a new exercise regimen is advised, most people can safely add any number of mild to moderately exertive exercises into their daily routine. Exercise doesn’t need to be especially excessive or strenuous and, above all, you should enjoy it! Mild stretching, walking or running, and lifting within your physical limitations can aide in keeping muscles from atrophy, increases your cognitive function, decreases the symptoms of certain diseases, can reduce your likelihood of developing certain diseases, and helps to keep you limber and functional well into old age!

What if someone told you that a moderate amount of daily exercise could improve your cognitive function? A new study has shown significant results in both animal and human test subjects; a moderate amount of exercise training has been linked with increased memory capabilities. Women who walked briskly multiple times a week have been shown to increase both spatial and verbal memory; women who focused on weight training showed an increase in spatial memory. Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (or BDNF) increased during testing after six weeks in lab animals adhering to an endurance-training regimen; while weight-training lab animals did not show a similar increase, they did show an increased level of another protein, one which aided in the promotion of cell division and growth. This is great news for people who are concerned about their memory; while exercise alone won’t reverse the effects of age-based memory loss, it can aide in the reduction of its significance.

Examples of Endurance Exercises:

  • Running
  • Pilates/yoga
  • Swimming
  • Abdominal crunches on an exercise ball
  • Sit-ups/crunches with weighted medicine ball
  • Cycling
  • Walking

Examples of Weight Training Exercises:

  • Knee extensions
  • Bicep curls
  • Abdominal crunches on an exercise ball
  • Sit-ups/crunches with weighted medicine ball