Sport and exercise with epilepsy

Young people we spoke with did many different kinds of sport: football, rugby, basketball, gymnastics, hiking, biking, extreme sports, swimming, running, fitness & gym, tetrathlon, martial arts, flying and surfing. 

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Some had had to cut down on exercise or even stop altogether because of frequent seizures or because strenuous exercise triggered their seizures (see 'Epilepsy triggers and managing them'). Most people could take precautions to ensure that doing sport was safe for them.

**Note: Collapsing during exercise can be a serious sign of a heart problem and always requires immediate medical assessment.

Some people usually did sport with a friend, rather than on their own, so they had somebody with them who knew what to do if they had a seizure. Others informed the staff at the sports centre of their epilepsy, for example the instructors at the gym, the lifeguards at the swimming pool, or the tutors of their exercise classes. People also felt safer wearing medical alert jewellery with their medical and contact details, if they were doing sport on their own. A couple of people also said that, before doing any sport, they made sure they'd taken account of their trigger factors, for example getting plenty of rest and eating properly.

A few people said they took no special measures when doing sports, for example they didn't wear a cycling helmet or inform the lifeguards at the swimming pool.

A few people had not been allowed to do certain sports in school because their teachers had worried about them having a seizure.

Last reviewed May 2016.

Last updated May 2010.


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