Vision and sports have always been closely related. Tennis junkies, for example, well know that to return the kick the opponent must have very good eyes because the ball can reach 200 km/h in speed. What has recently discovered a team of researchers from the University of California, in Sana’a Barbara (USA), however, is that exercise, specifically low intensity, like walking, can benefit our visual health.
Some activities considered of low intensity are gently walk on foot or by bicycle, a stretching routine, or a yoga or Pilates class for beginners
The work, which has been published in the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, shows that low-intensity physical activity stimulates brain cells responsible for processing visual information. A conclusion that has been reached after analyzing 18 participants, that measured heart rate and power frequency of the brain while performing Visual exercises at the same time that practiced cycling on an exercise bike. This exercise was repeated to low, high intensity and at rest.
The results confirmed what had already demonstrated in mice and flies; i.e., that low-intensity activity, as was the case with these animals, also helped activate the visual cortex of the human brain, the area responsible for informing the brain about what they see our eyes, i.e., responsible for vision. Something which, however, was not the case when the volunteers increased the intensity of your workout. “We observed that the neural response was better when the participants were doing low-intensity exercise than when they were at rest or did the high-intensity activity”, says Tom Bullock, lead author of the study.
The researchers acknowledge, however, that they still do not know the reasons why the activation of the visual cortex of the brain occurs when the person perform the low-intensity exercise. What is specialist and co-author of this work, Barry Giesbrecht, is that some specific neurotransmitters are those that increase global cortical excitability.
How to know what exercises are low-intensity
But, how do we know if we are making a sport of low intensity? To find out we must measure the pulse. If we do not have any heart rate monitor, also we can do so by putting two fingers (index and heart) at the wrist or neck, for example. Heart rate, i.e. keystrokes, should not go too fast, and as much as 40% of our maximum heart rate we must achieve to be considered that it is a low-intensity exercise.
Another simple way to know if the activity that we are practicing is of low intensity is testing whether we can talk while we do the exercise, and if so, it will mean that, effectively, is soft. Some low-intensity activities easy to carry out for the majority of people are gently walk on foot or by bicycle, swim relaxed, making a routine of stretching, or participate in a yoga or Pilates class for beginners, for example.