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Exercising with epilepsy

doi: 10.1097/01.NNN.0000300604.20820.2c
Department: the Waiting Room: Quick Tips

Most people-including those with epilepsy-find exercise beneficial. And according to Joseph I. Sirven, M.D., associate professor of neurology at the College of Medicine, Mayo Clinic, Phoenix, AZ, “Seizures during sports activity are rare, and exercise may have anti-epileptic effects.”

If patients are in “good control,” then almost any type of exercise is fine, says Barbara Scherokman, M.D., a neurologist at the Mid-Atlantic Permanente Medical Group in Fairfax, VA. If not, they should stick to milder exercise such as walking. “By good control,” we mean no seizures for a specified period of time' Dr.Scherokman says. Here are tips for exercising safely:

  • ✓ EAT AND SLEEP: Sleep deprivation and hypoglycemia are both associated with increased seizure risk.
  • ✓ STAY COOL: Take frequent breaks, hydrate, and save your greatest exertion for the coolest part of the day.
  • ✓ BE WARY IN WATER: Wear a life vest when you are on, in, or around water.
  • ✓ PROTECT YOUR HEAD: Wear protection when playing contact sports or when there is an added
  • risk of falling or head injuries, or avoid contact sports altogether.
  • ✓ USE THE BUDDY SYSTEM: If you ski or hike, go with a buddy in case you have a seizure in a remote area; and swim with a buddy who is a strong swimmer. Even walking is safest when done with a friend.
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