One of my favorite kettlebell coaches posted a fun video of him working through a synchronized sequence of kettlebell exercises with one of his colleagues and it looked awesome. Sure, these two athletes are strong as heck and are deftly wielding steel balls with precision and apparent ease. That's pretty awesome. But seeing their eyes pass from camera, to one another, to kettlebell, to camera, I see something even more awesome. Those peepers are getting a workout, too!
Think about this for a moment -- how often are you looking at a screen throughout the day? How often are you so focused on the task at hand that when you look away from your project, you notice your eyes are dry or vision is slightly askew? In this day and age, I would hazard it is happening quite often, if not throughout the majority of your day.
Here are 5 simple exercises you can try at home --
1: Focus Flexibility: Change focus between your computer screen and an object across the room, back to the computer screen, then over to a scene outside the window. Spend as much time as necessary at first to be able to see the full object clearly. After a few repetitions, you will find the time before the object comes into focus will shorten. This not only helps your focus flexibility, but also alleviates eye strain caused by extended screen time.
2: Peripheral Awareness: Observe a busy scene with your head turned to one side (perhaps on TV or a computer screen, or a sidewalk scene). This one may be tricky at first. Objects may appear as shadows, particularly if you are focusing narrowly on a single point. Soften your gaze ahead so that your vision can pick up easier on the moving objects by your side. Remember to practice from both the left and right.
3: Dynamic Visual Acuity: Cut letters of different sizes out of a magazine, put them on the turntable or lazy Susan and — at arm's length — identify them as they revolve. Use different speeds (if you have a turntable, use 33, 45, and 78 rpm). Start with large letters, then progress to smaller letters as the test becomes easier.
4: Depth Perception: Hang a balloon or lightweight object from a 2-foot string fixed to the ceiling or a door frame. Lightly strike the object to send it forward, backward, sideways, at a diagonal, while attempting to quickly respond from the same starting point between repetitions. Another method is to practice placing a cap on a pen while holding either at arm's length or to hold a very small pebble or BB at arm's length and drop it into a drinking straw.
5: Hand-Eye Dominance: Place sticky notes or tape varying sized pieces of paper on a wall. Stepping back 6 feet back, close your right eye and point to each object with your left index finger. Repeat with your left eye closed and right index finger pointing. Finally, alternate closing left eye and pointing left and vice versa. When the exercise becomes simple, start practicing with smaller pieces of paper and/or other digits (e.g. thumb, pinky finger).
While these exercises may not help you to ditch your specs, they can go a long way to aid in prevention in certain degenerative eye conditions and can vastly improve your sports and training performance.
Let me know how you get on. I'd love to hear which exercise you found the most fun and which was the most challenging!
Disclaimer: Fit Club is not a medical doctor and the information contained herein should not be taken as medical advice. These are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any health problem. Recommendations by Fit Club are not intended to replace the advice of a physician or health professional. Please consult your physician or a health professional before beginning any diet or exercise program.