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Exercise Benefits in a Pill?

Researchers look at how molecular messages affect eye health.

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Exercise benefits for eye health

Science continues to uncover the mechanisms behind some of exercise’s many health benefits, and fitness professionals can take this information and integrate it into programs for a wide range of clients, including those who may be dealing with eye health issues.

Recently, Australian and New Zealand researchers discovered that exercise decreases progressive neurodegeneration in the eye’s retina. How? Exercise stimulates molecular messages through neural pathways that improve cellular health and reduce oxidative stress and degeneration.

The same researchers from The Australian National University (ANU), Acton, Australia, who studied these molecular messages want to expand their research to determine whether or not they can identify and capture these messenger molecules in order to create a supplement. Riccardo Natoli, associate professor and head of clear vision research at ANU, explained that the molecules could potentially be hijacked, recoded, “bottled up” in a pill and taken like a vitamin. The idea is that those with neurodegenerative diseases who are unable to exercise will then be able to benefit from this positive side effect of exercise.

“We know exercise is good for our eyesight, but to what extent is still unknown,” said lead study author Joshua A. Chu-Tan, PhD. “Our aim is to understand the benefits of exercise at the molecular level and how it is beneficial for the central nervous system and the retina . . .  . We can’t possibly package all the effects of exercise into a single pill. There are too many benefits that stretch throughout the entire body beyond what we could ‘prescribe’ and that’s not the goal.”

The review study is published in Clinical & Experimental Opthalmology (2021; doi:10.111/ceo.14023).

See also: Why the Benefits of Exercise Vary



Shirley Archer-Eichenberger, JD, MA

Shirley Archer, JD, MA, is an internationally acknowledged integrative health and mindfulness specialist, best-selling author of 16 fitness and wellness books translated into multiple languages and sold worldwide, award-winning health journalist, contributing editor to Fitness Journal, media spokesperson, and IDEA's 2008 Fitness Instructor of the Year. She's a 25-year industry veteran and former health and fitness educator at the Stanford Prevention Research Center, who has served on multiple industry committees and co-authored trade books and manuals for ACE, ACSM and YMCA of the USA. She has appeared on TV worldwide and was a featured trainer on America's Next Top Model.

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