Exercise Programs For People With Glaucoma
If you have glaucoma, except in very rare circumstances, exercise needs to be part of your treatment plan. Of course, you must check with your medical team before starting any program, regardless of your eye condition or overall health.
“Research has shown that "Aerobic exercise is known to lower intraocular pressure (IOP), which we know protects retinal ganglion cells," says Harry A. Quigley, MD, professor and director of the Glaucoma Research Foundation at the Wilmer Eye Institute at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.
There are only a few guidelines you should know to help you pick a program that is right for you.
- Do not perform exercises that put your head below your heart. These might include: head and shoulder stands, downward facing dog, inversion poses such as bridges, standing forward fold, triangle poses, or positions with feet up in the air as in some core programs
- Do not hold your breath while lifting weights. This can increase your eye pressure.
- A steady 20 minute cardio session, 4 times a week is excellent for lowering eye pressure. More than this will not hurt but less is not very helpful.
- Drink water slowly over the duration of your exercise period. Drinking water in large quantities may raise eye pressure. Begin drinking your water a few minutes before beginning your routine and continue every few minutes throughout. Make sure to continue after exercising as well.
Here at BlindAlive.com and Eyes-Free Fitness®, we have several recommendations for you to help make choosing your exercise programs easy.
- The Gentle Workout Set has four 20 minute workouts. There are no head below heart positions, and most exercises can be done either standing or sitting in a chair. These workouts are ideal for those who are just getting started.
- Cardio Level One is a low impact, aerobic workout. Doing this workout regularly will help you achieve greater circulation which will help to lower eye pressure.
- Our Chair Yoga is gentle and gives you all the benefits of yoga without the risks of head below heart poses. There is one forward fold which can be easily modified.
- Pilates Chair With Ring is all performed in a chair with no head below heart poses. This is a strengthening workout which uses a Pilates ring for resistance. You are frequently reminded of your breathing so you can learn the proper way to breathe for Pilates.
- The Whole Body Stretch is done mostly in a chair. It is gentle. Stretching keeps muscles and joints moving freely which improves circulation and general well-being.
The beauty of each of these programs is that they can be done independently at home, with no trips to a gym or fees for expensive classes. All our workouts are thoroughly described so you can keep your eyes and your mind relaxed. There is no straining to see, and no fear that you may be missing an important component of the workout. You can do this, and we are happy to help!
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Good health to you,