Exercise as it relates to Disease/Impact of Exercise on Epilepsy in Rats

What Is The Background To This Research?

1-2% of the population is affected by epilepsy. Epilepsy is a common neurological condition that will cause seizures. Epileptic seizures are excessive and abnormal cortical nerve cell activity in the brain. Most diagnosis is done childhood or the senior years (Epilepsy.org.au, 2015). It has been discussed that people suffering from epilepsy should forgo the participation in sport. Several other diseases have been encouraged to perform physical activities such as cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s disease. Physical activity has been proven to increase quality of life, improving the general body condition while reliving signs and symptoms of anxiety and depression. Patients with epilepsy have forgone sport and physical activity as a result of misconception that physical activity exacerbates seizure activity (Setkowicz and Mazur, 2006).

Where Is The Research From?

This study was conducted by Zuzanna Setkowicz and Agnieszka Mazur for the department of neuroanatomy. This was based in the institute of zoology at Jagiellonian University.

What Kind Of Research Was This?

This study is a quantitative research, based on a population of 35 day old rats.

What Did The Research Involve?


The participants for this study where the new born of Wistar rats, who were maintained under controlled conditions, and allowed to weaned for 21 days. Preference towards males offspring where made to decrease the size of the litter to 10.


When the rats reached 35 days they started physical activities. This included a three path treadmill at 0% incline, while a swimming pool of 80x40x40cm filled with lukewarm water 30 degrees Celsius was used. 20 Rats were subjected to a training program lasting 45 days made of fifteen 3 day cycles. During the 3 day cycle the rats are weighed before running on the treadmill at a speed of 12m/min with a break of 5 minutes for duration of 14 minutes this was then increased to 18m/min for duration of 20 minutes. Swimming is conducted on the second day for duration of 20 minutes and a rest period for the third day. On postnatal day 79, epilepsy was induced using pilocarpine. Rats were injected with 3mM/kg of lithium chloride 20 hours before being injected with 30 mg/kg of pilocarpine during the hours of 9 to 10pm to gain most accurate results. What Were The Basic Results?

All rats that were injected showed signs of epilepsy. The rats that were subjected to the 45 day training program fared better when epilepsy was induced. The trained group of rats had a statistical significant delay for symptoms to manifest.

How Did The Researchers Interpret The Results?

The researches have interpreted the results by an impartial third party with no knowledge of the treatments of rats to observe and rate them using a six point scale of symptoms. The scale of symptoms was introduced by Racine (Racine, 1972).

• Light symptoms (rated as 0.5 or 1.0):

◦ 0.5—immobility, piloerection, salivation, narrowing of eyes, face and vibrissae twitching, ear rubbing with forepaws ◦ 1.0—head nodding and chewing movements

• Intermediate symptoms (rated as 1.5 or 2.0): ◦ 1.5—clonic movements of forelimbs, and mild whole body convulsions, exophthalmia, aggressive behavior ◦ 2.0—rearing and running with stronger tonic–clonic motions including hindlimbs, tail hypertension, lockjaw

• Heavy symptoms (rated as 2.5 or 3.0): ◦ 2.5—rearing and falling, eye congestion; ◦ 3.0—loss of postural tone with general body rigidity.

During the test and after the first round of pilocarpine induced seizures was clear that the trained group of rats has significant delay in onset. However for the remainder of pilocarpine induced seizures the frequency and intensity of symptoms increased in both trained and untrained rats. Although the time and intensity of the seizures in the trained group where significantly shorter.

What Conclusions Should Be Taken Away From This Research?

This study was conducted to show how epilepsy was affected by exercise. While this study concentrated on healthy brains the results show that it can relate to a one that has chronic seizures. The trained group of rats showed statistically better results in all behavioral parameters. The length and intercity decreased among the train rats. By the end of the study it was shown that a weight variance in the rats did not make any statistical difference. While an overall healthy rat increased blood circulation, allowing for a better blood flow to the brain increasing its resistance to seizures. While this research was conducted on rats, it will be hard to draw conclusion for human population and further research using humans will need to be conducted to get a detailed result.

What Are The Implications Of This Research?

While this study was completed on rats, data and results will be hard to translate to humans. The general consensus is that engaging in physical activity will allow for one to live a healthier life. While this research has shown that physical exercise has benefits towards controlling seizures and epilepsy related conditions, it should not be the only means of treatment. Exercise should be a part of the treatment plan however safe and controlled exercise should be a priority.

Further Readings:

Modification of seizure activity by electrical stimulation. Racine RJ. https://www.epilepsy.org.au/ Yoga for control of epilepsy. Nandan Yardi Physical Exercise in Outpatients with Epilepsy. Karl Otto Nakken Physical Activity, Heath-Related Fitness, and Health Experience in Adults with Childhood-Onset Epilepsy: A Controlled Study. Merja Jalava and Matti Sillanpaa


Epilepsy.org.au, (2015). About Epilepsy | Epilepsy Action Australia. [online] Available at: https://www.epilepsy.org.au/about-epilepsy [Accessed 3 Oct. 2015].

Racine, R. (1972). Modification of seizure activity by electrical stimulation: II. Motor seizure. Electroencephalography and Clinical Neurophysiology, 32(3), pp. 281–294.

Setkowicz, Z. and Mazur, A. (2006). Physical training decreases susceptibility to subsequent pilocarpine-induced seizures in the rat. Epilepsy Research, 71(2-3), pp. 142–148.