I often warn you about the many dangers of high-intensity exercise (or what I call “excess-ercise”)—including damage to heart, joints, soft tissues, and internal organs. And now—a new study has found that excessive exercise can even damage your eyesight.
I’ll tell you all about that new, surprising study in a moment. But first, let’s back up to discuss why overexerting the body can lead to so many significant health problems…
Overtaxing the body has consequences
The human body isn’t designed to remain sedentary. Which is why I always recommend you get 2.5 hours total of light-to-moderate physical exercise weekly. After all, research shows this is the optimal amount you need to achieve overall good health. Plus, this moderate amount allows the body to maintain homeostasis—a healthy state of constant, internal balance.
But that doesn’t mean more is always better. In fact, studies show the “law of diminishing returns” applies to exercise, too. Which means when you exercise beyond 2.5 hours each week, the benefits actually start to diminish.
And—eventually—the harms can start to add up. In fact, chronically overtaxing the body causes stress, strain, and wear and tear on your joints, organs, soft tissues, and muscles—including your heart! Which is why some exercise fanatics end up suddenly dropping dead from coronary artery disease or from heart strain.
Plus, over-exercising can even harm your mental health. In fact, as I recently reported, a major study found excessive exercisers grapple with mental health struggles year-round.
And now—it appears we should add eye disease to the long list of problems associated with over-exercising…
Too much exercise harms delicate eye tissues
For this new study, researchers followed more than 200,000 participants, ages 45 to 79, for up to 11 years. They recorded the participants’ physical activity levels at the start of the study and again during follow-up.
It turns out, 250 people in the high-intensity exercise group developed age-related macular degeneration (AMD)—a leading cause of vision loss among older adults. But only 198 people who did not engage in high-intensity exercise developed it.
Statistically speaking, here’s what that means…
Those who engaged in high-intensity exercise had a 23 percent higher risk, on average, and up to a 49 percent higher risk overall of developing AMD than their peers.
Plus, the effects of high-intensity exercise were even worse among younger people between the ages of 45 to 64 years: They had a 30 percent higher risk, on average, and up to a 63 percent higher risk overall of developing AMD.
And among men, specifically, those who engaged in high-intensity exercise had a 36 percent higher risk, on average, and up to a 69 percent higher risk of developing it.
The frequency of high-intensity exercise also affected outcomes…
For example, those who engaged in it just one to four times a week had a 28 percent higher risk, on average, and up to a 63 percent increased risk of developing AMD. While those who engaged in it five or more times a week had a 54 percent higher risk, on average, and up to a 206 percent higher risk of developing it!
This trend suggests there was a very strong “dose-response” effect. Which means, the more often high-intensity exercise was undertaken weekly…the higher the AMD risk.
Now, here’s where things got really interesting…
Researchers try to muddy the waters
Apparently, these results came as quite a shock to the researchers. They had expected to find that more and more exercise would simply be better for eyesight as people got older. And they even questioned their own results due to “lack of strong biological rationale.”
As I mentioned earlier, previous studies have already established that the law of diminishing returns applies to exercise and human health. Which means when people over-exercise, the health benefits start to diminish, and the harms start to mount up.
Plus, it only makes sense that all the jumping and jarring associated with high-intensity exercise could also cause some kind of damage in the delicate tissues of the eye, just as it does throughout the rest of the body.
Indeed, experts from the UCLA Longevity Center (which pioneered research on natural approaches to reversing Alzheimer’s disease and dementia) suggested that high-intensity exercise may lead to AMD because it harms the sensitive vascular membranes that surround the retina, which is located in the central area at the back of the eye.
So, in my view, the connection here is pretty clear to see.
In the end, continue to let moderation be your guide when it comes to exercise. Aim to spend just 2.5 hours weekly engaged in light-to-moderate physical activity, like hiking or swimming. And remember—even light gardening, housework, and walking all count toward your weekly total.
P.S. To learn about more simple, natural strategies to stay vibrant, youthful, and healthy well into your 70s, 80s, 90s, and beyond, check out my protocol, The Insider’s Ultimate Guide to Outsmarting “Old Age.” If you’d like to learn more about this comprehensive online learning tool, or enroll today, click here now!
“A Nationwide Cohort Study on the Association Between Past Physical Activity and Neovascular Age-Related Macular Degeneration in an East Asian Population.” Journal of the AMA Ophthalmology, 2018, 136(2): 132-139. doi.org/10.1001/jamaophthalmol.2017.5682