How running could help your eyesight

February 25, 2009


Yet another good reason to get out the old running shoes has come a study done at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory that tracked approximately 41,000 runners for more than seven years. They found that vigorous exercise, particularly running, can help reduce the risk of both cataracts and age-related macular degeneration. Cataracts are the leading cause of blindness and macular degeneration can cause irreversible vision in older people and so far there have been few suggestions as to how to avoid these conditions. Running, or any vigorous cardiovascular exercise, may be one excellent preventive measure and certainly worth investigating by anyone with a family history of eye disease.

The trial was conducted with both men and women runners they found that men who ran more than 5.7 miles per day had a 35 percent lower risk of developing cataracts than men who ran less than 1.4 miles per day. The study also analyzed men’s 10-kilometer race performances, which is a good indicator of overall fitness. The fittest men had half the risk of developing cataracts compared to the least-fit men.

In the case of macular degeneration the results were even more remarkable. Runners who averaged between 1.2 and 2.4 miles per day had a 19 percent lower risk for the disease, and people who ran more than 2.4 miles per day had an impressive 42 percent and 54 percent lower risk.

If you aren’t keen on running, then the scientists involved in the study believe that it is quite likely that the studies’ results might apply to a lesser extent to smaller doses of more moderate exercise such as walking.


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