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Old 11-13-2009, 08:13 AM
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Epilepsy and Exercise

You may have been told or thought that exercise can bring on seizures. Not necessarily so. At lease for a large population of those with epilepsy…

While some medical literature in the past reported that seizures could be induced by exercise, there are also more recent reports that exercise can be beneficial to those with epilepsy.

Many people with epilepsy, especially those with uncontrolled seizures, live a sedentary life and have low physical fitness. Regular physical exercise may have a moderate seizure preventive effect in 30-40% of the patient population, while in about 10%, strenuous exercise may provoke seizures.

Clinical and experimental studies have analyzed the effect of physical exercise on epilepsy. Although there are rare cases of exercise-induced seizures, studies have shown that physical activity can decrease seizure frequency, as well as lead to improved cardiovascular and psychological health in people with epilepsy.

Exercise, especially aerobic exercise, clearly benefits people with epilepsy because it often reduces seizure frequency, relieves depression, reduces social isolation, and promotes cardiac and general health.

In one study, 14 women completed a 3-month prospective exercise program and reported a significant reduction in seizure frequency during the period in which they exercised. In another prospective study, 26 children with intractable epilepsy underwent video-EEG monitoring during exercise and more than half showed a significant improvement in their EEG activity. A survey of 74 patients with epilepsy reported that those who exercised had significantly fewer seizures.

Research has found that most people with epilepsy experience improved electroencephalograph (EEG) readings during and after exercise. The reasons for this are unknown, but theories include:

The heavy breathing associated with exercise stops the build-up of carbon dioxide in the blood...

Reduction and management of stress...

Increase of ‘feel good’ brain chemicals (neurotransmitters) may calm the brain...

Concentration may focus the brain so that seizures are less likely...

Now, I’m not saying you should hike up Mt. Everest, sail the Bahamas, or swim across the Atlantic Ocean. Hang gliding and sky diving aren’t such a good idea either. And I wouldn’t recommend roller blades, skiing, or motorcycle jaunts.

But if you listen to your body, stop when you start feeling tired and slowly build up your routine, exercise can make you feel good, look great and put your mind in a better place.

Personally, I’ve been walking 3 miles a day for 20 years. I find it energizing and calming at the same time. Sometimes, I use “heavy hands” which start at one pound each. When I was younger, I was up to 5 pounds in each hand, but age has caught up with me, I’m sad to say.

Other things you can try are: jazzercise (although it makes me a little dizzy), ballet, if you just stick to the exercise part and don’t go twirling around the floor (I take private lessons), aerobics, use of a recumbent exercise bicycle, Pilates, yoga, and light weight bearing exercises, but be sure you have a trainer and please, skip the treadmill or the elliptical machine, no matter how macho you’re feeling.

Also, keep these exercise safety points in mind, for your own protection:

Before starting any new exercise program, consult with your doctor or specialist.

Avoid known seizure triggers.

Always take your medication as prescribed.

Make sure your sporting companions are aware of your condition and know what to do if you have a seizure.

Let family or friends know your walking, jogging or exercise route before you leave and how long you will be out.

And don’t forget to have FUN!!!


Copyright © 2009, Phylis Feiner Johnson. All rights reserved.
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Old 11-13-2009, 08:57 AM
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That's so interesting. It definitely makes sense that there's a link between exercise and seizure reduction. In addition to the reasons listed above, I would suggest that learning and continuing with an exercise activity helps develop new, healthy neural connections, sort of along the lines of what neurofeedback can do. For me, since my seizures start on the right side of the brain, I like to think that developing the left side of my body (which is weaker and less coordinated) will also help in terms of "distracting" the brain and preventing seizures.

I would add to the list of safety points above that when exercising strenuously you should remember to stay hydrated and to keep your electrolytes up (by taking vitamins or drinking vitamin water).
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Old 11-13-2009, 09:54 AM
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Thanks so much Nakamova,

All EXCELLENT points. And you're right about the brain: "use it or lose it!"
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Old 11-13-2009, 12:18 PM
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The key here is moderation, especially until you find out how your body will react. Some folks have issues with body temperature fluctuations as a trigger. Walking shouldn't be bad for them, but more serious exercise may be.

Although I am now giving it up due to age and nagging injuries, basketball has always been great for me. I have almost always been able to really push myself without issues (lucky). Once in awhile if the game would get real active, and I was making a lot of sudden turns, I would get a little dizzy. I have never had a tonic clonic from exercise.

Just remember everyone - start with moderation.
Character is doing the right thing when no one is looking.
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Old 11-13-2009, 01:27 PM
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GOOD advice. Thanks lots!
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Old 11-15-2009, 01:45 PM
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*sigh* I

NEED to get back to my walking. I used to walk between 3.5 and 5 miles a day.....

I have an IDEA!!! Man, where's the "light bulb" when I want one?

What if we set up a system of sorts where those of us who don't walk much (or at all) pair up with those who do for motivation so that we can get started, too? Even if we only start out walking a block or two a day, that would be a GREAT thing, right???

It's just a thought, and maybe slightly crazy at that.....but, what do you all think???
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Old 11-15-2009, 05:09 PM
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You couldn't be more correct. What gets my sneakers on and gets me out of the house is my walking partner. We've been walking together for 20 years and she's a great motivator. (She also helps me garden!)
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Old 11-15-2009, 06:08 PM
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I was actually told to back off by one of my docs, more than 30 push-ups can be an issue, and when I started doing squats I started having issues,, but 30 miles on my bike is no problems at all. A big part of it is stress an andreline involved with working out,
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Old 11-15-2009, 09:21 PM
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Originally Posted by Meetz1064 View Post:
It's just a thought, and maybe slightly crazy at that.....but, what do you all think???
Hey Meetz, I think it's a great idea! I too need to get back moving and I'm planning on hitting the gym for a yoga class tomorrow. You should join me! Of course you can choose whatever form of exercise you want.

Enjoy your night and I look forward to seeing you tomorrow : )
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Old 11-15-2009, 11:26 PM
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mmmmmm, I

think that sounds like an EXCELLENT idea, KelVar! Now, if I can only STRETCH MYSELF from here to there!!!! LOL!!
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Old 03-13-2010, 01:45 PM
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Hi All,

Please don't forget that any weight-bearing exercise is good for keeping bones strong. This is quite important when so many anti-epileptic drugs can interact adversely with calcuim and vitamin D. Vitamin D helps the body to absorb calcuim. As many people know - if not all - calcuim with a few other minerals is necessary for good bones!!! And might prevent breakage of bones during seizures, of course it bone breakages can still happen easily enough!!!

So another good reason for exercising - to keep our bones strong - or at least as strong as they can be!!!


Miss Choccy

Last edited by Miss Choccy; 03-13-2010 at 01:48 PM.
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Old 03-14-2010, 02:50 PM
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I've been going to the gym now for God knows how many years, and I completely agree that it is beneficial towards keeping the seizure's at bay.

However, there is always the matter of listening to your mind and your body, and understanding when you have to miss a workout due to how you are feeling, ie. if I've had a seizure the night before I will 9 times out of 10 miss the workout as a) I'll be feeling more tired than normal, and b) I have discovered (through trial and error) that the extra use of energy that I don't really have is a bad move to make, and have had seizure's down the gym.

So, just remember to listen to your mind and your body and avoid the gym when your 'batteries' are running low.

Hey, it's only going to be for that one night/day, and you have the rest of your life to keep in shape.
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Old 03-14-2010, 09:51 PM
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I agree. TeeTees is right on about that. I think exercise is great about evening out moods, keeping seizures at bay, etc. But there's no way if I'm feeling bum from a migraine or from a seizure it makes a lot more sense to listen to my body and do what will speed healing. Sometimes, though, I don't know what I need, because I'm a little mixed up. That's when my family comes in handy. They usually have more suggestions than I want to hear at the time <smiling>.
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