Working out can be enjoyable, and even therapeutic. You may have heard that there are some advantages to working out if you have epilepsy, but are you aware of all the risks? Is it safe to exercise vigorously if you have epilepsy?
The answer is, ‘sometimes’ and ‘it depends’, and exercise could actually be beneficial in certain ways. Read on to find out how vigorous exercise can affect you if you or someone you know has epilepsy.
How Vigorous Exercise Affects Your Body
Vigorous exercise simply means working out with the highest level of intensity. Physical activity could be anything from sprinting at a speed of 5 or more miles per hour to swimming, playing soccer, skipping rope, or even carrying heavy loads.
During a vigorous intensity workout, a few things may happen to your body.
For instance, there is an increase in blood flow throughout the body. Consequently, the supply of oxygen and nutrients to various parts of the body – including the heart, the brain, and other vital organs is increased.
Various endorphins and happy hormones are also released in the process. This means that regular vigorous activity can help improve your cardiovascular health and even your brain health.
But is all this really beneficial to epilepsy?
The Basics Of Epilepsy
Usually categorized as a neurocognitive disorder, epilepsy is a condition where a person recurrently suffers from seizures, oftentimes unprovoked.
As revealed in a recent article from Epilepsy Foundation on what is epilepsy, epileptic individuals may suffer from one or more of the different types of seizures. Some patients may even exhibit symptoms of neurological problems.
Common types of seizures include focal seizures, clonic, myoclonic, tonic, and atonic seizures.
Most seizures in epilepsy arise from abnormalities in brain activity and are sometimes accompanied by symptoms like unusual sensations, awkward behavior, and, at times, the loss of awareness.
The good thing is that epilepsy can be controlled or treated through one or a combination of ways, including:
- Anti-epileptic drugs under prescription
- Sticking to a ketogenic diet
- Vagus nerve stimulation
- Deep brain stimulation
Can Exercise Trigger A Seizure?
Epileptic seizures can be triggered by one or several things. Some of these may include sleep deprivation, stress, menstruation, alcohol, certain drugs, or even exposure to flashing lights.
Occasionally but very rare, physical exercise can trigger epilepsy in some people. However, moderate exercise can be beneficial in various ways to epileptic individuals.
Benefits Of Exercise To Epileptic Individuals
Regular exercise can benefit any individual regardless of their health status. However, this is only true if safety is prioritized when engaging in the physical activity in question – and the same case applies to people with epilepsy.
Generally, activities like yoga, swimming, biking, and basketball can benefit people with epilepsy.
Besides helping nourish the brain with a decent supply of oxygen, these exercises can also help curb depression, improve sleep, and reduce the risk of developing high blood pressure. But if you want to engage in any form of vigorous exercise, it is safer to make sure your epilepsy is under control and that the known seizure triggers are avoided.
Moreover, it is advisable to avoid extreme risk activities like skiing downhill, hang-gliding, car racing, or free-climbing as there’s no way of telling when a seizure will happen next if you have epilepsy.
The bottom line is that indeed, people with epilepsy can safely engage in vigorous exercise. This is as long as your condition is controlled, you avoid any known triggers, and you follow your doctor’s advice. With this in mind, epileptic individuals can actually use exercise to their advantage as far as seizure control is concerned.