NEW ORLEANS — Exercising can be difficult for many to stick with regularly, and staying motivated can prove to be the biggest issue. Now a new study provides extra incentive for people concerned about suffering from glaucoma: fitting in a regular daily workout can reduce one’s risk of developing the condition by more than 70 percent.
In fact, the authors found that adding just 10 minutes to your workout per week can significantly decrease the odds of you falling victim to one of the highest causes of blindness in the United States.
Researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles looked at data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, which has tracked the nutrition and health of about 5,000 adults annually in the United States since the 1960s.
The team found that those who were the most physically active among study participants saw a 73 percent decline in glaucoma risk, compared to those who were the least active.
Logging 7,000 steps a day for at least five days per week — the equivalent to about 30 minutes a day of “moderate-to-vigorous” exercise — can help lower one’s risk, but adding just 10 minutes to that weekly total decreases a person’s chances of contracting glaucoma by 25 percent. In fact, every 10 minutes added to one’s weekly exercise total lessens the risk by an additional 25 percent.
Similarly, for each 10-unit increase in walking speed and steps taken per minute, one’s glaucoma risk drops by another 6 percent.
“Our research suggests that it is not only the act of exercising that may be associated with decreased glaucoma risk, but that people who exercise with higher speed and more steps of walking or running may even further decrease their glaucoma risk compared to people who exercise at lower speeds with less steps,” says Dr. Victoria L. Tseng, a UCLA researcher, in a press release.
Despite the findings, Tseng says that because the study’s results are observational, future research is needed to understand the link between exercise and glaucoma risk. According to the National Eye Institute, anyone over 60 is at an increased risk of suffering from glaucoma, particularly Mexican Americans. African-Americans over 40 and those with a family history of the condition are also at a higher risk.
The study’s findings were presented at the 121st annual meeting of the American Academy of Ophthalmology.