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By On 21/03/2020 at 10:21


The prescription of physical exercise covers many areas of the population: from school physical activity to exercises aimed at improving the quality of life in older adults. However, to these groups, we must add other improvement objectives in patients with various pathologies, such as infantile cerebral palsy, patients with diabetes, breast cancer, or epilepsy.

This last disease of the nervous system affects a large percentage of the population. More and more studies that confirm the use of physical exercise to improve the symptoms that derive from epilepsy.

In this article, we will review the disease, the effects it generates, and the global guidelines of physical exercise for this population.



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Epilepsy and physical exercise


Epilepsy concept and symptoms

Following the history of neurology, epilepsy has been one of the most described and studied disorders throughout the past (1). Briefly described, epilepsy carries a predisposition to sporadic seizures caused by abnormal neuron activity.

The symptoms of epilepsy are variable depending on the brain area where it originates and whether or not its extension affects the entire brain. We can speak of sporadic and brief seizures in the form of absence or of serious and prolonged episodes, which highlights the great variability of affectations within the disease.

The most general may be the following:

  • Loss of consciousness and knowledge.
  • Movement disturbances.
  • Disorders of the senses.
  • Sudden muscle contractions.

A greater of these symptoms also derived other indirectly caused by the disease itself, such as anxiety, depression, social rejection, and other psychosocial disorders.

The set of consequences must be closely evaluated for a correct prescription of physical exercise, with the aim of maximizing the movement performed.


Causes and prevalence

Within this brain disease, a distinction can be made between idiopathic epilepsy, that is, epilepsy that does not have an identifiable cause, and secondary or symptomatic epilepsy, in which the causes are known. Among the most common of this last type of epilepsy are brain damage derived from prenatal or perinatal injuries (during childbirth), genetic alterations, severe traumatic brain injuries, cardiovascular accidents, infections (meningitis) or brain tumors, among others.



Exercise in patients with epilepsy

In the last decade, the idea of ​​using physical exercise and sport as a preventive tool and improvement in the quality of life of people has gained importance. Beyond the sole recreational purpose with which activity was practiced in previous decades. As mentioned in the beginning, this beneficial practice has been extrapolated (and demonstrated) to groups with special needs, such as those with epilepsy.

All this, and as number one precept in the prescription of physical exercise in this type of patients, will be effective as long as the patient has the medical endorsement towards sports practice as well as the programming, supervision, and control of the program by the staff qualified in physical activity.


Benefits of exercise in people with epilepsy

Studies in this regard, trying to relate the benefits derived from the practice of exercise in patients with epilepsy, have shown powerful aerobic or performance advantages when work responds at a frequency of 3 times per week for at least 45 minutes in each session, with an intensity of not less than 60% of the maximum oxygen consumption.

On the other hand, the fear of this type of patient to suffer epileptic seizures during sports practice exposes them more to a sedentary lifestyle compared to typical population groups. Given this fear, it should be noted that only between 5% and 10% of people with epilepsy who practice exercise suffer some type of crisis, a very low percentage that, in addition, is not directly related to the sport itself. This same study also states that seizure control improved with training.

Continuing with the exposition of the benefits of exercise towards this pathology, one of the most notable positive effects should be highlighted: the increase in the seizure threshold, or in other words, the point from which an epileptic crisis is unleashed. Not only that, but it also manages to reduce the typical abnormalities in patients with epilepsy that appear on their electroencephalogram.


Epilepsy and exercise: more benefits confirmed by science

In another scientific study, they studied a 15-week training program that included dance activities, specific strength training, and 60-minute stretching sessions (at least twice a week) managed to reduce the frequency of epileptic seizures. These same patients associated factors such as sleep or tiredness with the early appearance of epileptic episodes, which could directly relate to the improvement of these factors thanks to exercising with their reduction.

Another benefit has to do with the bone mass of this type of patients since the risk of suffering bone fractures and osteoporosis increases from 2 to 6 times more in people with epileptic seizures (sedentary and pharmacological factors). Specific low-impact movements will help combat this disease-related involvement.


Epilepsy and Exercise: Mechanisms for Improvement

The vast majority of authors who have studied the relationship presented in this article between physical activity and epilepsy agree that the direct mechanisms by which parameters such as the seizure threshold are improved, among others, are unclear, but they agree that Through sport and exercise, important parameters in epileptic processes can be improved, such as:

  • Attention and concentration (prevention).
  • Decreased emotional tension.
  • Motor control.

If we can improve the moments before the onset of an epileptic seizure, it is likely that the situation can be controlled more effectively for the duration of the seizure.


Activities not recommended

In summary, the most recommended form of physical exercise for patients with epilepsy is that of moderate-medium intensity, with specific movements of force and with constant stretching sessions that exceed 2/3 weekly workouts. However, due to the characteristics of the disease, the practice of activities such as:

  • Horse riding
  • Climbing.
  • Mountain Sports.
  • Motorsports disciplines.
  • Aerial activities.
  • Diving or swimming in open water.

These types of activities, along with others of similar danger, can pose a risk to the patient in the event of an epileptic crisis. Therefore, the constant supervision of a qualified professional will be an essential requirement in the development of any training or sport.


Conclusions on epilepsy and exercise

By way of conclusion, two concepts related to each other in a positive way should be noted: the sedentary lifestyle presented by patients with epilepsy and the benefits derived from this pathology when practicing physical exercise in a controlled manner.

Despite the limited scientific literature regarding the most effective training methods, studies so far have confirmed the positive impact on factors such as the seizure threshold, decreased loss of bone mass, improvement of psychosocial aspects such as motivation, encouragement, and self-concept.

It is one of the diseases with the highest prevalence of hospital admissions in recent decades. Controlled physical exercise can be a great tool to mitigate the symptoms derived from it.


To discover our natural remedy for epilepsy click here!

To contact our experts please call or write to us on the following numbers, phone/WhatsApp: +22990431725


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