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11 Tips to maintain eye health

To better care for your eyes, consider these tips that put the focus back on eye health.

Photo by Cédric Klei from Unsplash.com

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When considering making changes to positively impact your well-being, many aspects of health may jump to the forefront, from taking care of mental and emotional health to ensuring a well-maintained body from head to toes. However, one sometimes overlooked area is your eyes and the importance of vision care.

In the US alone, nearly 4.2 million Americans over the age of 40 suffer from impaired vision, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology. But it’s an aspect of daily health that is sometimes neglected.

To better care for your eyes, consider these tips that put the focus back on eye health.

1. Schedule an exam
While focusing on enhancing care for your eyes is a productive idea regardless, it’s also important to have your vision and eye health checked regularly by a professional. This can help detect diseases and conditions that cause vision loss and blindness, many of which show little or no symptoms in the early stages, and a doctor can help create a care plan that preserves your eye health.

2. Understand your family history
Genetics can play a major role in eye health, so talk to family members about their vision history. If anyone has been diagnosed with a disease or condition that impacts their eyesight, knowing can help determine if you are at a higher risk for developing a hereditary trait.

3. Use proper lighting
While there are many everyday ways to maintain eye health and function, there is one simple yet overlooked way to take care of your sight: reducing eyestrain.

While three out of four Americans suffer daily from eyestrain, according to an online survey conducted by Russell Research, some people may not realize the lighting they use at work and home may be contributing to the problem.

One way to achieve a reduction in eyestrain is to use indoor lighting such as the OttLite Wellness Series, a line of lamps that closely matches the spectrum of natural daylight to reduce eye fatigue and eyestrain by 51 percent. The line includes four models featuring stylish designs with ClearSun LED technology, high-quality diffusers for clear illumination and multiple brightness settings, all intended to help reduce eyestrain by providing “good” lighting, which means providing enough natural daylight-quality illumination to see clearly without being blinded by excessively high light levels or glare.

The lamps also feature adjustable necks and shades to help direct light to fully illuminate an intended area and adjust for glare from reflective surfaces and smart features like USB ports to conveniently charge your devices.

4. Clean contact lenses
If you wear contacts, make sure to take proper precautions, which includes cleaning and rinsing each time you wear and remove the lenses. When cleaning, use cleaners approved by an eye doctor, and don’t wear lenses longer than recommended.

5. Maintain overall health
Living a healthy lifestyle overall can have a positive impact on your eye health, too. For example, maintaining a healthy weight can help avoid risks like diabetes, which can lead to vision loss from diabetic eye disease or glaucoma. In addition, eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables aids eye health, along with fish high in omega-3 fatty acids.

6. Wear sunglasses
Overexposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays can increase the risk of age-related macular degeneration and blurred vision. It’s important to protect the eyes from harmful UV rays when you’re outside by wearing sunglasses that block out 99-100 percent of UV-A and UV-B radiation.

7. Shield your eyes
While sunglasses help block out the sun, protective eyewear like safety glasses and goggles can help shield the eyes while conducting physical activities like yard work or playing sports. Be sure to use safety glasses specifically intended for the use you’ll wear them for, as some varieties are designed for certain activities.

8. Limit evening screen time
The blue glare from traditional lighting and electronics (TV, cell phones, computers, tablets) used before bed may disrupt sleep patterns and circadian rhythm, and may even lead to sleep disorders, depression, cancer and cardiovascular disease.

9. Take a break
Your eyes work hard when you put extended focus on a computer screen or other activity. Take periodic breaks to avoid eye fatigue. Try the 20-20-20 rule: every 20 minutes, shift your gaze to something 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds.

10. Use proper lighting 
Your eyes are your window to the world, so protecting your eye health is an essential component of your overall wellbeing. Symptoms like headaches and drowsiness can be signs of eyestrain, a feeling of discomfort caused by issues like poor lighting.

Keep your eyes in optimal condition and avoid problems like eyestrain by ensuring you’re utilizing proper lighting within your home and workspaces. Natural daylight renders colors most accurately, which offsets the potential mood and energy level impact that occurs when you’re not able to perceive colors correctly.

However, when natural light isn’t practical while working at a desk or reading inside, rely on lamps that simulate natural light and have a high Color Rendering Index.

11. Don’t skip the eye doctor
If you’re having trouble with your vision, don’t hesitate to set up an appointment with an eye doctor. These symptoms specifically, according to the Centers for Disease Control, are reasons to see a doctor as soon as possible:

  • Eye pain
  • Decreased vision
  • Double vision
  • Draining
  • Redness
  • Flashes of light
  • Floaters, or tiny specks that appear to float
  • Halos appearing around lights

To find more information, visit OttLite.com.

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Fitness

Study finds moderate-vigorous physical activity is the most efficient at improving fitness

Dedicated exercise (moderate-vigorous physical activity) was the most efficient at improving fitness. Specifically, exercise was three times more efficient than walking alone and more than 14 times more efficient than reducing the time spent sedentary. Additionally, they found that the greater time spent exercising and higher steps/day could partially offset the negative effects of being sedentary in terms of physical fitness.

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In the largest study performed to date to understand the relationship between habitual physical activity and physical fitness, researchers from Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) have found that higher amount of time spent performing exercise (moderate-vigorous physical activity) and low-moderate level activity (steps) and less time spent sedentary, translated to greater physical fitness.

“By establishing the relationship between different forms of habitual physical activity and detailed fitness measures, we hope that our study will provide important information that can ultimately be used to improve physical fitness and overall health across the life course,” explained corresponding author Matthew Nayor, MD, MPH, assistant professor of medicine at BUSM.

He and his team studied approximately 2,000 participants from the community-based Framingham Heart Study who underwent comprehensive cardiopulmonary exercise tests (CPET) for the “gold standard” measurement of physical fitness. Physical fitness measurements were associated with physical activity data obtained through accelerometers (device that measures frequency and intensity of human movement) that were worn for one week around the time of CPET and approximately eight years earlier.

They found dedicated exercise (moderate-vigorous physical activity) was the most efficient at improving fitness. Specifically, exercise was three times more efficient than walking alone and more than 14 times more efficient than reducing the time spent sedentary. Additionally, they found that the greater time spent exercising and higher steps/day could partially offset the negative effects of being sedentary in terms of physical fitness.

According to the researchers, while the study was focused on the relationship of physical activity and fitness specifically (rather than any health-related outcomes), fitness has a powerful influence on health and is associated with lower risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer and premature death. “Therefore, improved understanding of methods to improve fitness would be expected to have broad implications for improved health,” said Nayor, a cardiologist at Boston Medical Center.

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Fitness

Tips to avoid common running injuries

Injuries are very common among runners. Recent research estimates that 82% of runners will become injured during their running career and up to 90% will experience injury while training for a marathon. Some of the most common include a stress fracture, plantar fasciitis, hamstring tendinitis, ankle sprain, runners’ knee, and Achilles’ tendonitis.

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Photo by Malik Skydsgaard from Unsplash.com

Whether training for a marathon or preparing for your first community race, being knocked off course with pain can be hard to handle mentally and physically.

Injuries are very common among runners. Recent research estimates that 82% of runners will become injured during their running career and up to 90% will experience injury while training for a marathon. Some of the most common include a stress fracture, plantar fasciitis, hamstring tendinitis, ankle sprain, runners’ knee, and Achilles’ tendonitis.

Injury prevention is critical. Here are some safety tips from Dr. Joshua Blomgren, a 15-time Chicago Marathon team physician and sports medicine physician, Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush:

Don’t over-train

Don’t increase weekly mileage or intensity by more than 10 percent each week. Build up slowly and let a good training schedule determine how much you run.

Invest in good shoes

Go to a specialty running shop to be properly fitted for running shoes and/or orthotics. Replace them every 350-500 miles. Incorrect shoes can affect your gait, leading to injuries in your feet, legs, knees, or hips.

Choose the best running surface

Look for running surfaces that absorb shock. Opt for asphalt over concrete. Find grass or dirt trails, especially for higher mileage. Avoid uneven surfaces and seek paths with slow curves.

Stretch!

Training causes tight muscles, leading to strain and changes in your gait. Commit to a stretching program. Just 5 -10 minutes after each workout can make a big difference.

Strengthen muscles

Runners have tight hip flexors because their quads are overtrained. Strengthen your hamstrings and glutes to reduce chance of injury and abductors, adductors, and core to create stability.

Watch out for heel striking

Heel striking occurs when your feet land in front of you and your heel hits the ground first. This is common among new runners but can lead to injuries such as shin splints, stress fractures, and joint pain. Land mid-sole with your foot directly underneath your body.

Prioritize posture

Good form means staying upright and keeping your shoulders back and relaxed. Work core exercises into your training and do posture checks every so often. Hold your head right above your shoulders and hips.

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Fitness

Postmenopausal women can dance their way to better health

After menopause, women are more likely to experience weight gain, overall/central body adiposity increases, and metabolic disturbances, such as increases in triglycerides and bad cholesterol. Together, these changes ultimately increase cardiovascular risk. Around this same time, women often are less physically active, which translates into reductions in lean mass and an increased risk of falls and fractures.

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Photo by Olivia Bauso from Unsplash.com

Women often struggle with managing their weight and other health risk factors, such as high cholesterol, once they transition through menopause. A new study suggests that dancing may effectively lower cholesterol levels, improve fitness and body composition and in the process, improve self-esteem. Study results are published online today in Menopause, the journal of The North American Menopause Society (NAMS).

After menopause, women are more likely to experience weight gain, overall/central body adiposity increases, and metabolic disturbances, such as increases in triglycerides and bad cholesterol. Together, these changes ultimately increase cardiovascular risk. Around this same time, women often are less physically active, which translates into reductions in lean mass and an increased risk of falls and fractures. As a result of all these changes, postmenopausal women often suffer from decreased self-image and self-esteem, which are directly related to overall mental health.

Physical activity has been shown to minimize some of the many health problems associated with menopause. The effect of dancing, specifically, has already been investigated with regard to how it improves body composition and functional fitness. Few studies, however, have investigated the effects of dance on body image, self-esteem, and physical fitness together in postmenopausal women.

This new study was designed to analyze the effects of dance practice on body composition, metabolic profile, functional fitness, and self-image/self-esteem in postmenopausal women. Although the sample size was small, the study suggested some credible benefits of a three-times-weekly dance regimen in improving not only the lipid profile and functional fitness of postmenopausal women but also self-image and self-esteem.

Dance therapy is seen as an attractive option because it is a pleasant activity with low associated costs and low risk of injury for its practitioners. Additional confirmed benefits of regular dancing include improvement in balance, postural control, gait, strength, and overall physical performance. All of these benefits may contribute to a woman’s ability to maintain an independent, high-quality lifestyle throughout her lifespan.

Study results are published in the article “Dance practice modifies functional fitness, lipid profile, and self-image in postmenopausal women.”

“This study highlights the feasibility of a simple intervention, such as a dance class three times weekly, for improving not only fitness and metabolic profile but also self-image and self-esteem in postmenopausal women. In addition to these benefits, women also probably enjoyed a sense of camaraderie from the shared experience of learning something new,” says Dr. Stephanie Faubion, NAMS medical director.

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