Exercise and Yoga

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Steven V. Pacia, MD

Comprehensive epilepsy centers offer the latest in medical and surgical treatments to alleviate the crippling effects of recurrent seizures; however, despite our best efforts, many patients have poorly controlled seizures or suffer from commonly associated depression or anxiety. With growing frequency, patients and their physicians are looking to complementary techniques, especially nonpharmacologic ones, to reduce the burden of seizures and to ease anxiety and depression. Exercise and yoga have well-established health benefits. Preliminary studies suggest that both may improve the quality of life for patients with epilepsy.

Patients with uncontrolled seizures cite stress as one of the most important seizure precipitants (1). Stress management may be accomplished through aerobic exercise and yoga, and some physicians are interested in these techniques as complementary therapies for patients with uncontrolled seizures (1,2). Unfortunately, many patients with seizures are counseled against exercise because of fear of seizure exacerbation and injury. Moreover, patients with epilepsy are often isolated and participate less in social and physical activities than the average individual (3). This chapter explores the potential benefits and risks of exercise and yoga for epilepsy.

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