We’ve all heard it said that maintaining an active lifestyle is a beneficial practice in order to maintain good health. This should come as no surprise. Our muscles, which enable our every movement, need to be frequently used to stay functional. You’ve heard of atrophy; it’s what happens to unused muscles over time. As muscles atrophy they become weak, unstable, decrease in mass and respond poorly to nerve impulses.
Although many of us carefully keep our bodies in good shape, there are some very special muscles that are frequently neglected. Where can these special muscles be found?
In our eyes.
That’s right, your eyes have muscles too, and just like every other muscle in your body, they require exercise. This may come as a surprise to you, because it’s easy to think to yourself, “I use my eyes all the time. Aren’t they getting all the exercise they need?”. Perhaps they are, but before you jump to a conclusion, take a minute to think about your day.
Take the exact moment you find yourself in now, for example. You’re reading dayprimer.com. You’ve been here for a few joy filled moments. Now think, how hard are your eyes working? As your eyes scroll through line after line of internet text, they’re really not being utilized to their full extent.
For a more powerful example, consider a typical day for you. If you you’re like a lot of people, your day probably goes something like this:
-Wake up, stumble to the shower and close your eyes for a few more peaceful minutes as the water tumbles over you.
-Get dressed, enjoy a warm cup of coffee as you glance through the daily paper.
-Get to work, spend the entire day in front of a computer or staring at your desk as you talk on the phone.
-Go home, relax in front of the TV, do a few things around the house before hitting the sack to rest up for another day.
As you can no doubt deduce, for a lot of people (and you may be one such person), there really aren’t many opportunities for our eyes to get some proper use. Reading, watching TV and staring at a computer screen really aren’t that intensive for our eyes, and so our eye muscles become weak and we lose quality in our visual acuity. Not to worry though, because you can exercise your eyes just like you can exercise any other muscle in your body, and it’s easy to do.
So how do you exercise your eyes? To get you started, I’ve put together a short list of some eye exercises you can start doing right away:
Eye Exercise Program
1 – Sit comfortably on a chair. Rub your hands together until they feel warm. Close your eyes and cover them lightly with your cupped palms. Avoid applying pressure on your eyeballs. Place your palms so that the nose remains uncovered, and the eyes remain behind the slight hollow of the palms. Make sure that no light rays enter the eyes, and leave no gaps between fingers or between the edge of the palms and the nose. You may still see other lingering traces of colors. Imagine deep blackness and focus on the blackness. Take deep breaths slowly and evenly, while thinking of some happy incident; or visualize a distant scene. After your eyes see nothing but blackness, remove your palms from your eyes. Repeat the palming for 3 minutes or more.
2 – Close your eyes tightly for 3-5 seconds, then open them for 3-5 seconds. Repeat this 7 or 8 times.
3 – Move your eyes upwards as far as you can, and then downwards as far as you can. Repeat four more times. Blink quickly a few times to relax the eye muscles. Now do the same using points to your right and to your left, at eye level. Keep your raised fingers or two pencils on each side as guides and adjust them so that you can see them clearly when moving the eyes to the right and to the left, but without straining. Keeping the fingers at eye level, and moving only the eyes, look to the right at your chosen point, then to the left. Repeat four times. Blink several times, then close your eyes and rest.
4 – Sit and relax. Roll your eyes clockwise, then counter-clockwise. Repeat 5 times, and blink in between each time.
5 – Choose a point you can see from the right corner of your eyes when you raise them, and another that you can see from the left corner of your eyes when you lower them, half closing the lids. Remember to retain your original posture: spine erect, hands on knees, head straight and motionless. Look at your chosen point in right corner up, then to the one in left corner down. Repeat four times. Blink several times. Close the eyes and rest. Now do the same exercise in reverse. That is, first look to the left corner up, then to the right corner down. Repeat four times. Blink several times. Close the eyes and rest.
6 – Sit about 6 inches (200 mm) from the window. Make a mark on the glass at your eye level (a small sticker, black or red, would be perfect). Look through this mark and focus on something far away for 10-15 seconds; then focus on the mark again.
7 – Hold a pencil in front of you at arm’s length. Move your arm slowly to your nose, and follow the pencil with your eyes until you can’t keep it in focus. Repeat 10 times.
8 – Take a pencil, or use your finger, and hold it under the tip of your nose. Then start moving it away, without raising it, until you have fixed it at the closest possible distance where you can see it clearly without any blur. Then raise your eyes a little, look straight into the distance and there find a small point which you can also see very clearly. Now look at the closer point-the pencil or your finger tip then shift to the farther point in the distance. Repeat several times, blink, close your eyes and squeeze them tight.
9 – Look in front of you at the opposite wall and pretend that you are writing with your eyes, without turning your head. It may seem difficult at first, but with a bit of practice it is really fun. The bigger the letters, the better the effect.
10 – Imagine that you are standing in front of a really big clock. Look at the middle of the clock. Then look at any hour mark, without turning your head. Look back at the center. Then look at another hour mark. Do this at least 12 times. You can also do this exercise with your eyes closed.
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It’s that easy.
As you go through your day, try to incorporate some of the above eye exercises into your daily routine. Doing so will help reduce eye-strain, keep your eye muscles in good shape and may even naturally improve your vision.
If you job requires you to spend long hours on the computer or reading, try to plan in some 30 second breaks every 15 minutes or so to focus on something far away and do one of the above eye exercises.
If you’re interested in learning more about eye exercises, here are some highly-rated books that cover the topic: