Eyes and fingers probably don’t come to mind when you think of body parts to exercise. But they need to stay fit as much as your arms or legs do.
Your eyes have muscles, and keeping them toned helps. Gradual loss of flexibility and strength in the eyes can add to vision problems. A big culprit these days: staring at digital screens on computers, phones, you name it.
“Those muscles do get tired,” says Mark Powell, a health and wellbeing consultant for Unum, who’s also a certified personal trainer. “Repetitive motions would make any muscles tired.”
For healthy eyes:
Reduce glare. When light hits your screen, you’re going to get glare, which strains your eyes. Factor that in to how you position your screen. Anti-glare films you can place over screens help too.
Look away. Do this several times an hour. Look at things that are varied distances from where you sit. The American Optometric Association recommends the 20-20-20 practice: Every 20 minutes look at something 20 feet from you for 20 seconds. This gives your eyes a break.
Try a fun exercise. You loved making cross-eyed faces when you were a kid, so try a tamer version as an adult. Keep your head straight, and look with both eyes to the right, then the left. Do this several times. Then look up and down with both eyes several times. This, believe it or not, is part of yoga practice in the Sivananda lineage. Exercises help strengthen eye muscles, of course, and improve focusing ability.
For healthy fingers:
Avoid bending your wrists up or down too far while you type. Your hands should be level with your keyboard, in a natural position. You can rest your wrists on a pad to help. This also keeps Carpal Tunnel Syndrome at bay (so does good seated posture).
Stretch your fingers, hands and forearms. Bend one elbow at your side, palm face up. Use your opposite hand to gently stretch your fingers by pressing down lightly on them. This also stretches your inner forearm. Then reach your arm straight ahead, palm down. Let your hand go floppy. Use your other hand to gently press on the back of the hand, stretching the top of your forearm.
Massage your forearms. They do a lot while you type and, generally, when you use your hands and fingers. Try placing a tennis ball between your forearm and a table or wall, then roll your forearm against it. This will relieve your muscles and tendons a bit.
Journalist Mitra Malek writes about wellness, fitness and innovation. She’s taught yoga regularly since 2006 and was a senior editor for Yoga Journal magazine. Learn more at mitramalek.com.