Voluntary exercise can increase the time it takes for the development of status epilepticus following a stimulation, according to experimental research published in the scientific journal, Epilepsy and Behavior.During the study, researchers led by Dr Ricardo Mario Arida, at Universidade Federal de São Paulo, in Brazil, used female adult rodents to try and establish whether exercise programmes can interfere with seizure susceptibility.While many studies have investigated the effects of exercise on epilepsy, these have been exclusively performed in male animals by convention.“However, females are also worthy of investigation because of their cyclical hormonal fluctuations and possible pregnancy,” the authors write.For the present study, the team divided the female rodents into three groups. They subjected them to controlled, forced and voluntary exercise, and then induced epileptic seizures in them using the drug pilocarpine.The scientists observed the animals for four hours and recorded: the time that passed until the animals developed status epilepticus; the number of animals that developed status epilepticus; and the intensity of motor signs induced by the drug.Although they saw no difference among the three groups of animals in the time that passed for first motor signs to appear, or in the number of animals that developed status epilepticus, they found that in animals that were provided with an exercise wheel in their cage (the voluntary exercise group), the time it took for status epilepticus to develop was longer compared to animals in the controlled exercise and forced exercise groups. In other word, in animals that exercised as they wanted status epilepticus developed later.“Our behavioral results are not enough to explain physiological and molecular pathways, but there are mechanisms described in literature which may allow us to propose possible explanations,” the authors write.They also note that future studies should address the possible mechanism behind these results, and that gender specific differences should be considered.Status epilepticus is defined as a continuous seizure lasting more than 30 minutes, or two or more seizures without full recovery of consciousness between them. According to some scientists, any seizures that lasts more than five minutes should to be treated as status epilepticus.Author: Dr Özge Özkaya