Answer by Nicholas Poolos, MD
If you are asking this because you’re actually getting strenuous exercise on a regular basis… then good for you! Getting your heart rate up with vigorous physical activity is an important part of being healthy, and having epilepsy shouldn’t be a limitation to exercise. To answer the question more directly–it probably depends on just how “strenuous” the exercise is. In general, exercise should not precipitate seizures, but it’s possible that really strenuous activity that left one dehydrated or overheated might provoke a seizure.
Also, a small proportion–a few percent–of those with epilepsy can provoke seizures with hyperventilation (breathing rapidly), so these people might be at risk of provoking a seizure with vigorous aerobic activity. If you are just starting out on a exercise program, our advice is to gradually increase the intensity of your workouts, and stay well-hydrated. But don’t let epilepsy prevent you from exercising!