Exercise and you
Dr Eleanor Tillett, an honorary consultant in sports and exercise medicine at The Institute for Sport, Exercise and Health, University College Hospital, London, gives some tips and advice on sports, exercise and being physically active.
Regular exercise, less seizures
There is evidence to suggest that people with epilepsy who take exercise regularly may have less frequent seizures than those who are less active. Exercise can help with anxiety, depression, obesity and osteoporosis. Scientists still cannot fully explain the numerous health benefits of exercise to the brain. However, the most common explanation is that exercise increases our metabolism and flow of blood to the brain which increases growth factors and reduces loss of cells.
Protecting against the risk of brain disorders
For people with epilepsy, it would seem that exercise increases the level of neurotransmitters in the brain, so helping to increase seizure threshold. There is also some evidence to suggest that exercise in early and mid life may help to protect against the risk of brain disorders later in life.
My top tips
- a small change can have the biggest impact on your health. Going from nothing to something, even 10 minutes exercise a day, can make a difference
- think about the kind of exercise you might enjoy: in a group/on your own, sporting/general activity, outdoors/indoors. Join your local sports centre
- think about the benefits of being physically active
- walking is fantastic. It’s weight bearing, it’s free and it’s outdoors
- any moderate intensity activity that leaves you slightly short of breath and sweaty is beneficial
- make your daily routine more active. Get off the bus a stop early and walk the last leg of your journey. Take the stairs, not the lift
- if you’re not used to being active, talk to your GP about how to get started
- the safest forms of exercise are non-contact, non-height and non-water
- cycling, climbing and contact sports such as football and rugby, are slightly risky but should not be ruled out. Ask your healthcare professional for a risk assessment
- exercise should include aerobic exercise, strength building, flexibility and balance but many activities will incorporate all of these
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