Physical Activity and Epilepsy
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- Arida, R.M., Cavalheiro, E.A., da Silva, A.C. et al. Sports Med (2008) 38: 607. doi:10.2165/00007256-200838070-00006
Epilepsy is a common disease found in 2% of the population, affecting people from all ages. Unfortunately, persons with epilepsy have previously been discouraged from participation in physical activity and sports for fear of inducing seizures or increasing seizure frequency. Despite a shift in medical recommendations toward encouraging rather than restricting participation, the stigma remains and persons with epilepsy continue to be less active than the general population. For this purpose, clinical and experimental studies have analysed 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. The majority of physical activities or sports are safe for people with epilepsy to participate in with special attention to adequate seizure control, close monitoring of medications, and preparation of family or trainers. The evidence shows that patients with good seizure control can participate in both contact and non-contact sports without harmfully affecting seizure frequency. This article reviews the risks and benefits of physical activity in people with epilepsy, discusses sports in which persons with epilepsy may participate, and describes the positive effect of physical exercise in experimental models of epilepsy.