Is it Safe to Exercise if You Have Epilepsy?

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Epilepsy is a neurological disorder that affects the brain and can cause seizures. Epilepsy can be managed with medication for some people, but exercise may also be a part of their treatment plan.

If you have epilepsy and wonder if it is safe to exercise, keep reading. In this post, we will discuss the benefits of exercise for people with epilepsy and give you some tips on how to stay safe while working out.

What Exactly Is Epilepsy?

Epilepsy is a chronic neurological disorder that affects the nervous system. It is characterized by recurrent seizures that can vary in frequency and intensity.

Epilepsy can be caused by various factors, including genetic predisposition, head trauma, and brain tumors. The exact cause of epilepsy is often unknown. Epilepsy is diagnosed after a person has had two or more seizures that were not triggered by a known medical condition. Treatment for epilepsy typically involves medication but may also involve surgery or other therapies.

Temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE): People with TLE experience seizures that begin in one side of their brain, usually the temporal lobe.

Those with TLE may experience visual hallucinations or see things that aren’t there, feel like something is stuck in their throat, or have a change in their sense of taste. There are different types of seizures associated with TLE:

  • Complex partial seizures: Complex partial seizures can cause a change in awareness or emotions.
  • Simple partial seizures: Simple partial seizures can cause a change in sensation, like tingling or numbness in the arm.
  • Generalized seizures: Generalized seizures can affect the entire brain, causing a person to stop what they are doing, fall to the ground, and either stare blankly ahead or move their bodies in unusual ways. Some general types of seizures are tonic-clonic seizures, tonic seizures, atonic seizures, myoclonic seizures, and absence seizures.

If you’re interested in learning more about the question, what is epilepsy? check out this post.

How Can Exercise Help Those with Epilepsy?

Exercise can help people with epilepsy control their seizures. Several studies have found that people with epilepsy who exercise regularly have lower numbers and intensity of seizures than their sedentary peers.

These findings suggest that physical activity may help people with epilepsy reduce the amount and intensity of their seizures. Regular exercise is an important part of epilepsy treatment for many people.

Exercise benefits for people with epilepsy include improved sleep and mood, a better quality of life, reduced stress and anxiety, and lower blood pressure.

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Is it Safe for People With Epilepsy to Exercise?

Yes. While everyone has different health needs, the American Academy of Neurology (AAN) recommends that everyone with epilepsy be physically active. The AAN found that people with epilepsy who exercised regularly had fewer seizures than those who did not exercise, regardless of the type of epilepsy they had.

People with epilepsy who exercise regularly can reduce their risk of seizures, improve their quality of life, and even reduce the amount of medication they need to take.

However, it is important to take certain precautions when exercising if you have epilepsy. Many people with epilepsy take anti-seizure medication to help prevent seizures.

This medication can make you more sensitive to heat and help you stay hydrated during exercise to avoid heatstroke. It can also cause dizziness or make physical activity feel more difficult. 

Some people with epilepsy also experience changes in sensation, like numbness or tingling, resulting from their seizures. While these sensations might not indicate a seizure, be aware of them to avoid injury.

Tips for Safe Exercising for People with Epilepsy

If you have epilepsy, you can do a few things to stay safe while exercising.

  • Talk to your doctor: Your doctor can help you create a treatment plan that includes regular exercise.
  • Stay hydrated: Even if you don’t experience seizures, many people with epilepsy experience sensitivity to heat. Stay hydrated during exercise to avoid heatstroke.
  • Pace yourself: If you are on anti-seizure medication, it can make physical activity feel more difficult, so take breaks during longer workouts.
  • Wear comfortable clothing: It is important to wear clothes that fit while exercising to avoid injury. Avoid loose-fitting clothing that could get caught in moving parts of a machine or cause you to trip while walking.

If you have epilepsy, it is important to talk to your doctor about managing your condition. Regular exercise is a great way to reduce your risk of seizures, improve your mood and sleep quality, and even reduce the amount of medication you need to take.

When exercising, take certain precautions to avoid heat stroke and injury. Remember, exercise is a great way to manage your epilepsy and live your best life.

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