Aerobic exercise could give you healthier eyes, according to research

Dry, itchy eyes could be a thing of the past, as studies suggest aerobic exercises like running can benefit eye health

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Do you suffer from dry, itchy eyes? You might have tried soothing eye drops or cold compresses, but here's a remedy you haven't tried before – going for a run, cycle, or even a circuit-style HIIT session. 

Yep, it turns out lacing up the best running shoes for men or best running shoes for women, and hitting the great outdoors can not only benefit your heart and muscles, but your eyes, according to recent research. If you frequently find yourself with irritation or itchiness around your eyes, aerobic exercises can help alleviate dryness. 

The research, published by scientists from the University of Waterloo, found a "significant increase" in tear secretion and tear film stability was present in people after participating in aerobic exercise. It's thought this tear film is absolutely essential for maintaining proper eye health, as it keeps out dust particles and other irritants. 

52 participants, some athletes who exercised five times a week, and some non-athletes, were asked to participate in an exercise session. Before and afterward, the researchers performed visual examinations where the eye's tear film and secretions were assessed. 

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Heinz Otchere, a PhD candidate at Waterloo, said: "It can be challenging for people to regularly exercise when the demand is there to work increasingly longer hours in front of screens. However, our findings show physical activity can be really important for not just our overall well-being, but for our ocular health too."

Running and other aerobic exercise, whether you're embarking on a Couch to 5k plan or training for a half-marathon, can be fantastic for our general health as Otchere says. A study across 230,000 participants (opens in new tab) found running reduces the risk of early death from all causes, including cancer. 

However, many people find running monotonous. If that's you, plenty of other aerobic exercises can confer similar benefits. If you'd rather do a 20-minute aerobic gym workout than a run, you'll still get those ocular benefits – you'll just need to swap your running trainers for a pair of the best cross-training shoes instead.

Want to maintain great eye health? You also need a healthy diet, including beneficial fats like omega 3. Our best fish oil supplements list is a great place to start.  

Matt Evans
News Editor

Matt Evans is an experienced health and fitness journalist and News Editor at Fit&Well, covering all things exercise and nutrition on the Fit&Well website. Matt originally discovered exercise through martial arts: he holds a black belt in Karate and remains a keen runner, gym-goer, and infrequent yogi. His top fitness tip? Stretch.