21.12.2017

UK Study Shows Visually Impaired People Get Less Exercise Than People With Normal Vision

A new report on the challenges visually impaired people face getting enough exercise per week was a major topic at this year's Essilor University and College Symposium. Dr. Keziah Latham, a reader at Anglia Ruskin University's Visual Function and Physiology Research Group, was the lead author on this important study.

Researchers involved in this study put pedometers on people with sight issues and people with normal vision. When they averaged out the steps for both groups, the researchers found that people without visual problems walked 9,964 steps per day. By contrast, people with visual difficulties only walked 5,992 steps per day.

Of course, the less physical activity a person gets per week, the increased likelihood s/he will develop serious health problems. A few of the common health complications people get with too little exercise include heart disease, diabetes, and colon cancer. Older people who fail to get an adequate amount of moderate exercise are at a greater risk of falling and fracturing a bone.

Health officials in the UK recommend everyone get at least 150 minutes of moderate or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise every week. Recent statistics show that only around 67 percent of men and 55 percent of women in the UK are meeting these standards for healthy living.

Even more shocking, around 19 percent of men and 26 percent of women in this survey were totally inactive. The main reasons people fail to get an adequate amount of exercise have to do with low motivation and/or self-discipline.

People with visual issues face the same challenges of low self-motivation, but they also have additional fears about getting more active. Most people living with vision disorders also have more fatigue than the average person. Dr. Latham believes this heightened fatigue has to do with the increased stress visually impaired people have to deal with performing everyday tasks.

Another reason visually impaired people fail to get their required exercise is because they tend to ask for help from family and friends only for essential tasks. Instead of asking for a ride to a park or gym, visually impaired people would prefer to ask their friends for a ride to the doctor.

At the end of Dr. Latham's presentation, she suggested ways eye doctors can encourage their patients to get more active. As an example, Dr. Latham pointed out the success of Parkrun's latest initiative. One recent Parkrun event in the UK encouraged visually impaired runners to team up with people with healthy sight for a five-kilometer run. So far, 113 people have taken part in this race.

Besides Parkrun, the group called British Blind Sport helps organize events for blind and partially blind UK residents. Just a few sports people can take part in through British Blind Sport include cycling, target shooting, and cricket.

Besides running with a guide, Dr. Latham said guided biking and Tai Chi classes work extremely well for most visually impaired people.

This year's Essilor University and College Symposium took place between September 6th and 7th at the Farncombe Estate.


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