Staying Fit: Exercising with Macular Degeneration

exercising with AMDExercise is important for everyone, but it is particularly vital for those with Age-related Macular Degeneration. After all, what’s good for your heart is beneficial for your eyes. (In fact, a healthy heart sends more nutrients and oxygen to the eyes!)

However, AMD patients often become less active as their sight diminishes; even though the benefits of exercise are exponential! Those who exercise regularly experience improved energy, balance and they sleep better. Not to mention, regular exercise can help slow the progression of AMD! But, not surprisingly, many AMD patients find even the notion of the gym intimidating. If this is sounds familiar then start by hitting the gym with a friend or relative. Or, better yet, hire a trainer who can help show you the ropes, spot you, and critique your form. Can’t afford a trainer? No problem, we’ve compiled a list of the best ways for those with low vision to get in shape!:

Swimming: Swimming builds endurance, strength and it’s a very low impact exercise. If treading water alone intimidates you, join an aquatic aerobics class. You’ll have fun, meet new people- and it won’t even feel like you’re exercising.

Recumbent bike: The stationary bike is great for cardio workouts and it’s perfect for those with low vision. Not only is there hardly any learning curve, it’s also easy on joints. Oh, and you get to sit down while you do it! What could be better? A recumbent stationary bike has its pedals at seat height and allows you to have a great cardio workout while going extra easy on the hips, shoulders, wrists and back.

Walking: Grab a friend and go for a walk around your neighbourhood. Its great cardio exercise and you can get some fresh air while you do it. To begin, aim to take a 25 minute walk each day. If you want to add a little bit more to your walking work-out, try swinging your arms or moving them briskly as you stroll. By the way, did we mention that regular walkers are 30% less likely to develop wet AMD? 2

Yoga: One of our favourite fitness options for those with low vision is yoga. Most gyms have beginner yoga classes and you can often try a class for free on your first visit. Yoga builds strength, muscle tone, endurance and balance; all in one. Yoga involves slow movements and detailed instructions. There’s even a yoga mat designed specifically for those with low vision. It features raised and low areas strategically placed so that those with poor eyesight can easily navigate where their hands and feet are supposed to be. And don’t forget to take part in the meditation portion of class! The meditation and breathing techniques you’ll learn during yoga class will help ease any AMD-related anxiety, stress or depression you’re experiencing. Namaste!

There you have it. Ingrain this in your memory: better health leads to better vision. Don’t neglect to do your own part to preserve your vision! Perhaps make it your New Year’s resolution to work up a sweat at least three times a week.

Disclaimer: Discuss an exercise regimen with your doctor first.. Then, get moving! You can do it!

Do you exercise despite your low vision? Share your tips with us and let us know what your goals are!



4 thoughts on “Staying Fit: Exercising with Macular Degeneration

  1. Thanks for bringing attention to exercise and it’s importance for our general health and eye health. Although the study is not new, the abstract from Nutr Rev, 2005 Jan;63 (1) 9-15 discusses the role obesity plays as a risk factor for age related macular degeneration. The abstract states that obesity may increase the risk of AMD because of the increased oxidative stress and increased inflammation that goes along with it.

    1. Thanks for that response, Leslie. And you’re welcome for bringing attention to exercise and eye health.. The correlation between the two is more prominent than most know. Hopefully AMD patients can find some inspiration in this article to remain active and live a healthy lifestyle.. Do you have any tips that I missed for staying active w/ low vision?

  2. The impression is that people with macular degeneration are quite aged and the exercises described are fitting that group. I am very fit, practice yoga 6 days a week and teach yoga. What I would really like to know is is there any concerns regarding inversions and macular degeneration

    1. Hi Kim. Glad you found the blog. Great question! Though you may want to consult a doctor, I’ve heard that those with AMD (also those with glaucoma or retinal detachment) should avoid inversion therapy. Being inverted for long periods of time can increase intraocular pressure, which is not necessarily good for those with (particularly wet form) age-related macular degeneration.

Leave a Reply