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#EpilepsyAwareness: Importance of exercise for persons living with epilepsy

Readers Lounge By Fredrick Beuchi Mboya
The fear of having a seizure during an exercise should not deter one from staying active (Shutterstock)

With most of our daily movement restricted during this coronavirus pandemic, it can be difficult to keep an exercise routine.

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Not only is it important to stay physically healthy during times of stress, but taking care of our emotional and mental health is just as crucial and exercise can help improve both.

Some specific diseases that are linked to a lack of exercise, poor diet and being overweight include cardiovascular disease (which can lead to heart attacks and strokes) and hypertension (high blood pressure).

Studies show that people with epilepsy are at an increased risk of developing most of these conditions, so being active and maintaining a healthy diet can help their overall health.

For people living with Epilepsy, exercising is another way that they can take control of their health.

The fear of having a seizure during an exercise should not deter one from staying active. Instead, they can talk to a doctor about what exercises are right for them.

Some studies have even shown that people with epilepsy who exercise regularly have fewer seizures than those who don’t exercise.

It’s best to always exercise with a friend who is aware of possible seizures and safety procedures in case you have a seizure.

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Here are some tips and guidelines as you start planning your exercise activities:

  • Keep a diary of the exercises you’re doing and how they make you feel afterward.
  • Find a partner near your fitness level and start off slowly.
  • Wear the correct protective gear if you’re playing a contact sport, riding a bike or rollerblading.
  • Take proper precautions when it comes to water activities.
  • When jogging or walking, consider taking a path that’s not too far from other people, but also not on a busy street.
  • Avoid your known seizure triggers – for instance, if lack of sleep can be a seizure trigger for you, get a good night’s sleep before playing sport, or avoid exercise if you are overtired.
  • Stay well-hydrated and eat something before exercising.
  • Don’t continue exercising if you feel faint, lightheaded, nauseous or generally unwell.
  • Don’t overexert yourself – know your limits.
  • Let family or friends know your walking, jogging or exercise route before you leave, and how long you will be out.

- The writer is the National Epilepsy Coordination Committee (NECC) National Secretary (Kenya), and an Epilepsy Awareness ambassador

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