July 30, 2019
1 min read

Outdoor exercise reduces myopia progression in school-age children

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A 30-minute outdoor exercise program performed every school day for 1 year temporarily reduced the risk of myopia progression in children ages 6 to 7 years who were nonmyopic at baseline, according to a study published in Translational Vision Science & Technology.

“Our research provides further evidence and confirmation of an association between increased outdoor activity and decreased prevalence and incidence of myopia,” Yin Guo, MD, of the Tongren Eye Care Center, Beijing Tongren Hospital at Capital Medical University, said in a press release from the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology.

The study was conducted in Beijing, China, and included 373 students in the 6- to 7-year-old age group (grades 1 or 2). The children were examined annually from 2012 to 2016. They all underwent a comprehensive ocular examination, including biometry.

Between 2012 and 2013, the children were split into a study group (n = 157) and a control group (n = 216). Those in the study group performed a 30-minute jogging exercise every school day, while those in the control group did not. At baseline, factors such as axial length (P = 0.24), refractive error (P = 0.08), time spent with indoor activities (P = 0.88) and time spent with outdoor activities (P = 0.89) were not greatly different between the study group and the control group.

One year after baseline, researchers found that the study group experienced significantly lower progression of myopic refractive error and axial elongation than the control group. After 1 to 2 years of the outdoor program ending, the increase in axial length was much larger in the study group. Four years after baseline, the study group and control group were not significantly different in total axial elongation and total change in refractive error.

Differences among the groups were evident in axial elongation only in the subgroup of children nonmyopic at baseline. However, axial elongation in the children who were myopic at baseline did not differ between both groups.

“This study also indicates that increasing outdoor activity may delay the progression of myopia for up to 2 years. We now need to translate these findings into action among children in China and around the world in order to help preserve their vision,” Guo said in the press release. – by Alexandria Brooks

Disclosures: Guo reports no financial disclosures. Please see the study for all other authors’ relevant financial disclosures.