Staying Safe With Exercise And Sports

Being active and exercising, in recreational activities or sports can improve mental, emotional and physical health. It’s important for everyone and should be encouraged for people with epilepsy. Sometimes people don’t exercise or play sports for fear that it could worsen seizures or lead to injuries. Yet, consider the following …

  • Very rarely, exercise is a trigger for seizure activity. For the vast majority of people with epilepsy, the benefits of exercise far outweigh the risks.
  • Recent research is showing that exercise and being physically fit may reduce the risk of seizures! Stay tuned as more research is done in this area!
  • Common sense dictates that certain activities may need special accommodations or should be avoided.
  • Most sports are safe for people with epilepsy to do, even if seizures aren’t fully controlled. However, the greater and more severe a person’s seizures, the greater the need for that person to limit or modify athletic activities.
  • Using some simple safety precautions can help people stay active. For example,
    • A woman with complex partial seizures enjoyed downhill skiing and just made sure she skied with her husband and used beginner or intermediate trails. People with frequent seizures or at risk for falls could use a harness on a ski lift.
    • A man with rare tonic-clonic seizures roller blades every weekend and stays safe by wearing a bead and knee and elbow pads. Even people without seizures should wear protective gear with many activities like this!
  • Even if some activities need to be avoided, there are plenty of ways for people to stay active and exercise!

Water Sport Safety: Water sports, including swimming, snorkeling, jet skiing, windsurfing, and sailing, are risky for people with epilepsy, but with a few accommodations they may be safely pursued by some people.

  • Always have a buddy with swimming or water sports.
  • At least one person in the activity or observing it should be aware of the possibility of seizures and know basic life-saving techniques.
  • Always wear a high-quality, properly fitted life vest when near the water.
  • Always wear a MedicAlert bracelet or necklace!


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