Going for a run or hitting the gym regularly is great for your overall health – you hear this all the time. But certain forms of exercise can be especially beneficial for eye health.

The health benefits of regular aerobic exercise are well documented. From lowering cholesterol, high blood pressure, and high blood sugar to reducing weight and improving sleep, cognitive performance, and mood, aerobic exercise is one of the best things you can do for your health.

And that’s not all. Recent research suggests that aerobic training can be great for eye health and dry eye disease.

So, why is exercise good for eyesight and how can you maximize its benefits?

What Is Aerobic Exercise?

Aerobic means “with oxygen.” Any form of physical exercise during which your cells use oxygen to produce energy is called aerobic. Examples of aerobic exercise include walking, jogging, swimming, and cycling.

Contrast this with weightlifting, sprinting, or high-intensity interval training, all of which are forms of anaerobic exercise. Anaerobic means “without oxygen” and refers to exercise during which your body uses glucose reserves stored in the muscles and liver as fuel.

Aerobic exercise is rhythmic and repetitive and engages the large muscle groups of your body such as the glutes, quadriceps, and hamstrings in the legs. It speeds up your heart rate and increases the amount of oxygen your body uses.

You can do aerobic exercise at the gym, at home, or outdoors. For certain indoor aerobic exercise workouts you may need equipment like a stationary bike or a treadmill.

man in training clothes running on a treadmill at the gym

Common forms of aerobic exercise include:

  • Walking
  • Running
  • Cycling
  • Swimming
  • Hiking
  • Dancing
  • Climbing stairs
  • Rowing
  • Zumba
  • Jumping rope
  • Cross-country skiing
  • Gardening
  • Aerobic classes

Good to know: Aerobic training and cardio training often mean the same. Cardio training technically refers to exercise that speeds up your heart rate – something that occurs naturally as your body’s oxygen use increases.

Aerobic Exercise and Eye Health: What’s the Link?

A study published in 2022 involving 52 participants found that those who ran at least once a week on a treadmill had increased and more consistent tear film secretion and better visual acuity.

Participants who ran five days a week saw an even more significant improvement. Researchers believe that these effects occur because aerobic activities improve blood circulation, which in turn benefits the eyes and tear glands.

Findings from this study suggest that aerobic exercise can be a remedy for relieving eye dryness caused by dry eye syndrome. Instead of reaching out for the bottle with artificial tears as the default solution to dry eye disease, you may want to try regular aerobic exercise.

A review of 16 papers on the effects of exercise on the tear film and dry eye disease supports these findings. More specifically, the review found that a single training session increased tear volume and reduced markers of inflammation or oxidative stress. The review also found that long-term training provided relief from dry eye symptoms.

The bottom line is that aerobic exercise benefits for eye health are real. Even one aerobic training session per week can be good for your eyes and certainly better than not exercising at all. But to see more substantial results, schedule regular training sessions.

Aim to meet the FDA’s recommendation of 150 to 300 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 to 150 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise spread throughout the week.

Best Aerobic Exercises for Eye Health

All forms of aerobic exercise could be beneficial for your eyes, but some may come with additional risks you should consider.

Before you start: If you have diabetes, heart disease, or another serious medical condition, or are just starting to exercise after a long period of inactivity, it’s a good idea to talk with your doctor or a fitness instructor to ensure your exercise plan is effective without being too taxing.

Safe Aerobic Exercises for Eye Health

The following aerobic workouts can be great for your eyes while carrying minimal risks for your vision.


Walking can be a good aerobic exercise if you do it at a brisk pace. When walking, it’s important to get your heart pumping to take advantage of the health benefits of this form of exercise.


Just bring up aerobic training in a conversation and running is the first exercise that comes up. No wonder since running is easy to get into and requires little gear.


Whether you’re growing flowers or vegetables or both, gardening can help you transition from a sedentary lifestyle to an active one in a pleasant and rewarding way. But wear sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses to reduce the impact of UV radiation on your skin and eyes.

young woman holding watering can in one hand and smiling in the garden with wheelbarrows resting on ivy wall next to her

Pruning roses, mowing grass with a high-speed trimmer, or performing other gardening tasks that can increase the risk of eye injuries? Wear protective glasses.


Most forms of dancing provide a good aerobic workout. Certain dances also have a social component to them that makes them outright fun. If you’ve ever danced the lindy hop you know what we mean.

Aerobic Exercises to Be Careful About

Some aerobic exercises require more care and preparation if you want to enjoy the eye health benefits they can bring without drawbacks.


A great full-body cardio workout, swimming may expose your eyes to chlorine and other chemicals found in public swimming pools. These substances may disrupt the delicate balance of the tear film.

Swimming in pools may lead to swimmer’s eye or dry eye disease. If you regularly swim in pools, wear protective goggles, flush out your eyes, and stay hydrated.


Cycling is a fun way to get a healthy dose of aerobic training. It’s also easier to get into than other aerobic workouts.

With that in mind, cycling outdoors can expose your eyes to wind, dust, UV radiation, and the odd fly that may inadvertently crash into your eye.

That’s why it’s a good idea to add to your cycling gear not only a protective helmet but also a pair of wraparound sunglasses with good UV protection.


Hiking may not be an everyday aerobic exercise, but when you get the opportunity to do it, make the most of it. It can provide a thorough aerobic workout. With that in mind, hiking may expose you to dust and UV radiation.

Jumping rope

This timeless aerobic exercise can get your heart pumping in no time. But it carries a risk of eye injuries, so start slow.

Cross-country skiing

Sun reflections, low temperatures, and the risk of falls make cross-country skiing one of the more dangerous aerobic workouts around. Enjoy it with care.

Keeping Your Eyes Healthy

Aerobic exercise in its many forms promotes eye health and can help soothe dry eye disease symptoms. It can be part of a dry eye disease treatment, and a way to reduce your dependence on artificial tears. With that said, pushing yourself too hard or not taking preventive measures could sideline you or cause eye injuries.

Another powerful way to support eye health is through a natural eye health supplement that provides your eyes with the essential nutrients they need to function at their best.

SightC is a superfood blend that includes goji berries, turmeric, Cherokee rose, and other carefully chosen ingredients long used in traditional Chinese medicine to improve eye health.

SightC superfood blend eye health supplement

Rich in lutein, zeaxanthin, and other essential nutrients that may be lacking from the Western diet, SightC supports the healthy functioning of your eyes and tear glands. It’s perfect for complementing a healthy lifestyle.

Whether you have mild or severe dry eye or living with chronic dry eye, SightC could help relieve gritty eyes.

Learn more about the eye health benefits of SightC.

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