Exercise May Help Prevent Epilepsy In Men

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The Running Man

No one doubts that exercise is good for your overall health, but many will be surprised to hear that keeping fit can help fight off epilepsy later in life, at least if you’re male. According to a new study from Sweden, published in the September 4 online edition of Neurology, young men with a fit heart are at a lower risk for developing epilepsy at later ages than those with lower fitness levels.

The team from the University of Gothenburg, lead by Dr. Elinor Ben-Menachem examined the records of 1.17 million young Swedish men who have joined the military at the age of 18. During admission to the army, each were required to undergo a test to measure their level of fitness.

The researchers then monitored their health for an average of 25 years. During that period, 6,796 developed epilepsy. Those with higher levels of fitness at the age of 18 were 79-percent less likely to develop epilepsy than those with low fitness measurements. They were also 36 percent less likely to develop epilepsy than men with medium fitness levels.

The risks of developing epilepsy were slightly reduced with factors such as inherited epilepsy and history of brain injury, stroke, or diabetes were taken account for. Dr. Ben-Menachem elaborated on the findings, stating, “exercise may affect epilepsy in two ways. it may protect the brain and create stronger brain reserve or it may simply be that people who are fit early in life tend to also be fit later in life, which in turn affects disease risk.”

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