November is National Epilepsy Awareness Month. Epilepsy affects about 2 million people in the United States and is characterized by recurrent, unprovoked seizures. Delayed recognition of these seizures and inadequate treatment increases the risk for additional seizures, disability, decreased quality of life and, in rare instances, death.
Having epilepsy does not mean a person cannot exercise. Physical activity can reduce the risk of epileptic seizures. However, since seizures can occur suddenly and without warning, a person with epilepsy needs to ensure their exercise and sporting activities are as safe as possible. Water safety is critical for a person with epilepsy.
Overall fitness and a feeling of wellbeing have been shown to help reduce seizure frequency. People feel better and may improve their seizure control with regular exercise. One report suggests that exercise improves self-esteem and social integration regardless of seizure control. It has also been shown that regular exercise reduces the number of overall health complaints, such as muscle pains, sleep problems, depression and fatigue.
Most sports activities are safe as long as people avoid overexertion, dehydration and hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). If a seizure occurs, it is most likely to be after the exercise (15 minutes to three hours later).
Remember, exercise is good for everyone, but it also has important benefits for people with epilepsy as the condition may improve with exercise. Take all necessary safety precautions while epilepsy.
By: Emily Hess, BCTMB, Massage Therapist at Valley Health Wellness & Fitness Center
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