Get full access to Outside Learn, our online education hub featuring in-depth fitness and nutrition courses and more than 2,000 instructional videos when you sign up for Outside+.
Your eyes contain six muscles — with names surprisingly similar to those in your abs, including four rectus and two oblique muscles — which engage to help you track moving objects, scan an area or focus on a stable image. These muscles are hard at work from the moment you wake up to the moment your head hits the pillow, and likely none of us has considered working them out to improve our vision.
However, some studies suggest that exercising your eyeballs can help alleviate strain, improve vision and correct issues such as myopia or dry eyes. Some researchers even believe that strengthening your eyes could help with conditions such as motion sickness or learning difficulties. Try these five exercises to pump up your eyeballs and strengthen your secondary six-pack.
If you work at a desk most of the day, research published in Optometry Times recommends that every 20 minutes you look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds to give your eyes a break from the brightness and closeness of the computer.
Hold your finger about an inch away from one eye and focus on it. Then slowly move it away from your face while maintaining focus. Then focus on an object in the distance, look back at your finger and move it back toward your eye. Repeat three times on both sides.
Not-Rapid Eye Movement
Close your eyes and then move them slowly through their entire range of motion — look up and down three times, then left and right three times. If you’re feeling fancy, rotate them clockwise and counterclockwise for three reps each. Repeat for three rounds.
Look at a blank wall or open floor space about 8 feet away, then draw an imaginary figure-8 on its surface with your eyes for 30 seconds. Do this exercise in both directions.
Hold a pencil at arm’s length and focus on it. Slowly move it in toward your nose while maintaining focus as long as you can, then move it slowly away again. Complete 20 reps.