Seizure disorders should not interfere with one's ability to enjoy a wide range of activities. Physical activity and recreation promote self-confidence and social interaction while supporting a healthier physical state through exercise. People with epilepsy experience fewer seizures if they lead an active life.
If you have uncontrolled seizures, here are some suggestions for a safe and enjoyable time while participating in sports or physical activities.
- Consult your doctor if starting a new exercise program
- Always take your medication as prescribed
- Always wear your medical alert bracelet
- Contact sports and activities like boxing, bungee jumping, and scuba diving are not safe and should be avoided.
- Avoid solo aerial sports
- Avoid high altitude sports like rock climbing or mountain climbing
- If walking or jogging, inform family or friends of your route and how long you will be gone.
Avoid the following activities if diagnosed with uncontrolled seizures:
- Motor sports
- Horseback riding
- Certain water sports
Water safety is critical for people with seizure disorders. A person who has a seizure while swimming in deep waters will most likely drown if left unattended.
Water Safety Tips:
- Never swim alone
- Swim with a person who is aware of your condition
- The swimmer accompanying you should be physically strong enough to keep you above water and should know the first aid procedures to take
- Swim in supervised areas such as the community pool or in range of lifeguard on the beach
- Tell the pool or beach life guard that you have epilepsy and be ready to brief them of first aid procedures
- Consider wearing a life jacket in the water
Inform your coach and teammates if you experience uncontrolled seizures and instruct them on first aid response. They can keep you safe during a seizure and avoid unnecessary calls for an ambulance. Remember to pace yourself and wear protective gear appropriate to your sport.
Exercise Related Triggers
Exercising wisely is key to eliminating seizures triggered by exercise. A seizure may be triggered minutes or hours after exercise if you unnecessarily overwork or strain your body. Exercise related risk factors include:
- Extreme fatigue
- Lack of sleep
- Electrolyte loss (due to severe dehydration)
- Hyperthermia (elevated body temperature)
- Hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar levels)
Activities to enjoy include:
- Track and Field
- Cross-Country Skiing
Activities that pose some risk*:
* These sports include the possibility of head injury.
- Scuba Diving
- Rock Climbing
Reprinted in part from Living with Epilepsy