Physical Exercise in Women with Intractable Epilepsy


Address correspondence and reprint requests to Professor H. Ursin at Department of Biological and Medical Psychology, University of Bergen, Årstadveien 21 N 5009, Bergen, Norway.


Summary: Fifteen women with pharmacologically intractable epilepsy were given physical exercise (aerobic dancing with strength training and stretching) for 60 min, twice weekly, for 15 weeks. Seizure frequency was recorded by the patients for 3–7 months before the intervention, during the intervention period, and for 3 months after the intervention. Medication and other known seizure-influencing factors were kept as constant as possible. Self-reported seizure frequency was significantly reduced during the intervention period. The exercise also led to reduced level-of subjective health complaints, such as muscle pains, sleep problems, and fatigue. The exercise reduced plasma cholesterol ratio and increased maximum O2 uptake. Because most of the patients were unable to continue the exercise on their own after the intervention period, the exercise effects were not maintained during the follow-up period. The patients were not unwilling to continue the exercise, but it was not sufficient to offer them the possibility of continuing similar types of exercise. We believe that 15 weeks is too short a time to establish a life-style change and that continued physical exercise for these patients requires a well-organized and supportive program, requiring experienced and dedicated instructors.