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Exercising with Epilepsy

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  • Exercising with Epilepsy

    I have recently been diagnosed with epilepsy, but got the “ok” from my doctor to exercise, but was advised to stay away from lifting weights. I haven’t had a seizure in about 2 months, and I’d like to get back into exercising since I’ve gained some weight. I’ve had some fear of getting another seizure, but I’ve read there’s benefits when exercising with epilepsy, so I’m going to go back to trying to achieve my fitness goals. I am compliant with medication and try to get as much sleep as possible while staying low stress.

    I used to strength train, but now I’m more focused on bodyweight exercises since I don’t want to risk having a seizure during a heavy lift. I’m wondering what you think the best option for me is. If possible I would like to strength train with a barbell since my brother owns a home gym with a Rogue rack with all the bells and whistles. I wouldn’t train alone, and have my brother supervise me at all times.

    Here’s my plan so far. For bodyweight exercises, my lower body workouts would be (jump squats, banded body squats, single leg rdls, front squat w bands, lunges, etc.) and upper body (push ups, banded row, banded lat pull down, banded overhead press). I’d do lower body 2x a week and upper body 2x a week, each exercise for 3 x 8-12. I’d also do some walking after each workout, and hiit 1x a week.

    If possible with a barbell and dumbbells, the strength exercises I would do are squats, dls, barbell chest press, db rows, and barbell op following Candito’s strength training regiment. Again, I was advised to stay away from strength training, but I’d like to get your opinions on the pros and cons. I really prefer the barbell.

    For cardio, I usually use a treadmill walking full incline for 30 mins but I’ve been afraid of getting a seizure while using one and injuring myself. Would it be ok to go back using a treadmill? Or should I replace my cardio with something else?

    I’m sick of not working out since I’ve been diagnosed. I was doing well working with the barbell at the home gym, but epilepsy has set me back.

    If I could get your opinion on what options would work best for me, I’d greatly appreciate it.
    Last edited by Jordan Feigenbaum; 07-30-2020, 03:10 PM.

  • #2
    Do you know why they asked you not to lift weights? Also, did they find any particular cause for the seizure?

    I don't know that a high intensity BW circuit would have a reduced risk of complication than lifting weights so I'm not sure that I would necessarily advise that. I also don't know that I would advise a program without autoregulation either. Seems like that should be an integral part of any program.

    In any case, we can't weigh the pros and cons of your specific case due to medicolegal concerns, in addition to not knowing anything about you. 10/10 would recommend talking to your doctor.

    That said, the risks of worsening seizure activity secondary to exercise doesn't appear to be a thing, with most evidence suggesting reduced frequency. Additionally, the benefits of exercise on health are vast and robust seems unlikely that you'd need to refrain from any specific type of exercise unless there were specific indications to do so.
    Barbell Medicine "With you from bench to bedside"
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    • #3
      They asked me not to lift weights because they were concerned I would drop it on myself, but I guess I failed to mention to them that I have spotter arms on the rack and a brother nice enough to spot me on every set.

      I’ve had 2 grand mal seizures, but they never found the root cause of my epilepsy. They just said it could happen to anyone. I suspected that it was from a concussion I had 4 days before my first seizure where I fainted and hit my right temple on the edge of a wooden table. My eeg and ct scan came out normal, but they said normal brain scans doesn’t necessarily detect epilepsy.

      Thanks for your input Jordan!


      • #4
        ***In addition, when I brought up that I had hit my head days before my first grand mal, they pretty much dismissed it and thought that it most likely wasn’t the root cause.


        • #5
          Yea, this probably deserves a bit more thorough workup from a neurologist - particularly if there are limitations being put on your daily activities.
          Barbell Medicine "With you from bench to bedside"
          ///Website /// Instagram /// Peri™ Rx /// Whey Rx /// Barbell Medicine Podcast/// Newsletter /// Seminars ///