The holidays are often a time of over indulgence, but for many people, the start of a new year kicks off a stronger focus on overall health and well-being. Cutting calories, increasing cardiovascular fitness, and building muscle strength can be great for your overall health, but we’re guessing you weren’t really considering your eye health when you made that goal. Well, good news! Improving your fitness level can have great benefits for your eyes, too!
As the obesity epidemic in the US continues to grow, more and more research is being done into the effects of obesity on the whole body. Sure it takes a toll on your heart and joints, but people who are overweight are also predisposed to a variety of eye-related health issues. Diabetes, which in some forms can be directly linked to an unhealthy weight, can lead to diabetic retinopathy and/or macular degeneration. Both conditions are related to the vascular system, which includes the blood vessels in your eyes, and with the strain excess weight puts on your pulmonary system, vision can deteriorate. High blood pressure and high cholesterol, both of which are linked with unhealthy weight, can lead to hypertensive retinopathy and retinal vein occlusion.
On the face of it, the solution is simple—lose weight. However, as anyone who’s ever struggled to shed pounds can attest, it’s NOT always simple. Thankfully, if you’re willing to put in some hard work, there are a few tips and tricks that can help you reach your healthy weight goals:
- Count your calories: It’s often annoying, but simply increasing awareness of your calorie intake can encourage healthier eating habits. Often, we’re not even aware of how many calories seemingly innocuous foods contain. Many of the new step-tracker devices have an app that will help you keep track of what you’re eating, or you can search your smart phone app store for a variety of calorie-tracking applications.
- Plan your meals ahead of time: And this includes snacks, too. If you already know what you’re eating (and plan your meals when you’re not hungry), it’s a lot easier to continue making healthy decisions. Having an apple or some celery sticks and hummus ready to go when you feel snackish will make you that much less likely to reach for the Doritos. In the same way, knowing that you’ve got the ingredients for a healthy, but tasty, meal in the fridge at home is going to make you much less likely to stop for take-out on the way home.
- Exercise: Yeah, you knew this one was coming, didn’t you? Even 20-30 minutes of brisk walking, four times a week can make a huge difference in your overall health. Take a friend, take your dog, pop in your headphones and take your favorite podcast or audiobook. Just get out there. (Or in there, as it’s cold and maybe 20-30 minutes on the treadmill sounds better than 20 minutes fighting it out with that wicked north wind.) The more you do it, the easier it will get, and as exercise increases endorphins, the more you do it, the better you’ll feel, not just physically but mentally as well.
If you have any questions about your eye health and it relates to your weight, come see us. While eyes are our specialty, we care about the general well-being of our patients just as much. We’d love to see you make and meet those health goals in 2018!