Basic Epilepsy Exercise Program
No matter what you're doing for your exercise program, it's critical that you get some enjoyment out of it. This will help you stick to it. For example, you may love to be outside on a trail. You may love to lift weights or maybe yoga is your thing.
There are some aspects that should be part of every fitness program. If you have specific goals beyond general fitness, then get help from a local exercise specialist. You can also leave questions in the comment section below.
General Guidelines for a Complete Exercise Program
- Breathing Work: Get your diaphragm and your core muscles activated and ready to work for the tasks ahead.
- General Warm-up: Begin every session by “warming up” your body and getting it ready for exercise. Watch this video for a guided warm-up.
- Start with gentle stretching and movements like jumping jacks and easy running in place to get your core temperature up.
- Then do some squats, swing your legs, or make circles with your arms to prepare your muscles and joints for the tasks ahead.
- Activation Exercises: Following the general warm-up, it is a good idea to perform exercises to warm up the part of the body you'll be working. For example, do some lunges before running or do some squats without weights before squatting with weights. You want to mimic the movement you plan on doing, but at a lighter intensity.
- Workout: After your body is prepped, now is the time to hit your workout for the day.
- Cool down: Take 3 to 5 minutes to cool down your body at a light intensity (such as easy walking, spinning on the bike, easy rowing). Watch this video for a guided cool down.
- Mobility/Flexibility: End your exercise by stretching the muscles so they do not tighten up. Either stretch on your own or use an item like a foam roller.
Getting Children Moving
- A critical part of getting children active is to make it fun. Go to the park, join a sports team, or ride a bike.When a child is active and having fun, they are much more likely to continue the activity long term.
- It's imperative that the parents and caregivers don't reflect any fear or reservations they are having on the child. Children are sponges and will pick up on those feelings, which may inhibit their ability to enjoy the activity stress free.
Getting Adults Moving
Unfortunately, getting adults moving isn't as easy. Kids want to move. As we age, we develop aches, pains, and excuses.
- The key is to start small and set measureable and attainable goals.
- If the recommended 30+ minutes of physical activity most days of the week is too much, then start with just 5 minutes a day. Try something simple like a walk around your block.
- Another way to get moving more is to just make your daily activities more active. Jog up your stairs every time you climb them. Park in the spot furthest from the store entrance.
- From there, increase your activity level every week. Before you know it, the recommended 30+ minutes a day will feel like a breeze and you'll want more.
Getting Caregivers Moving
Caregivers are a vital part of the epilepsy community. They need and deserve care and attention too. The time, energy, and effort required to be a caregiver is nothing short of commendable. However, caregivers cannot always help others without taking time for themselves. Exercise is a great way to accomplish this.
The strategies in the Getting Adults Moving section apply to caregivers too.
- Start small if it seems intimidating.
- Believe you deserve this time.
- For some caregivers, exercise time can be shared with the person they are caring for. It becomes part of the caregiving process - you are both taking care of your bodies, keeping each other accountable, and serving as each other's buddy for safety sake.
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