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Exercise Benefits for Epilepsy

Tuesday, November 06, 2018 8:28 AM

It is commonly known that exercise is good for everyone, but it has additional benefits for people diagnosed with epilepsy. Janet Choi, MD, Neurology at NorthShore, explains that epilepsy is a disorder in the brain causing recurring seizures. Our thoughts, feelings and actions are controlled by cells that regularly communicate through electrical impulses in the brain. When an uncontrolled burst disrupts this regular electrical pattern, a seizure occurs. Research shows that even though seizures can happen during exercise, the positive effects of exercise may help to reduce seizures for some people with epilepsy.


According to the Epilepsy Foundation, the benefits of exercise outweigh the risks for the vast majority of people with epilepsy. Being active can improve mental, emotional and physical health in all people - so it is important for people with epilepsy to be encouraged to do so. Sometimes having the diagnosis of epilepsy will cause people to avoid physical activity for fear of injury, but there are many precautions one can take to ensure safe exercise:

  • Take extra time to hydrate and eat a healthy snack (e.g. fruit, vegetables or nuts).
  • Start out slow and monitor your limits - take a break if you start to feel faint, lightheaded or nauseated.
  • When doing cardio, you can exercise with a buddy, avoid busy streets, and utilize parks or running/bike paths. If you do go out alone, let your family or friends know the route and approximately how long you will be out.

Taking these precautions can benefit your overall health, and research has shown regular exercise can even reduce seizures in some people with epilepsy.

It is important to consult your doctor or specialist before starting an exercise program, and follow any seizure precautions outlined by your doctor. NorthShore’s Epilepsy Program is dedicated to provide comprehensive care and a personalized epilepsy treatment plan. Call 877.570.7020 for more information on epilepsy symptoms and treatment, or to schedule an appointment.