Can exercise make symptoms worse?: Hello This is my... - Headway


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Can exercise make symptoms worse?



This is my first post on the Headway forum. I am recovering from a hypoxic brain injury that was caused by a cardiac arrest in April this year.

I am just getting back into light exercise and have been for a gentle jog/walk this evening. I tried to go into the supermarket on my way home from this and a fog of confusion, more like I had a couple of months ago I think, descended. I couldn't find any items that I needed and called my boyfriend and couldn't get my words out.

This all cleared thankfully but has spooked me a bit. Has anyone found exercise or physical exertion trigger any spells like this?

Thank you

4 Replies

Hi Alice, I had a TBI back in Jan 14 and didn’t get back to exercise for well over 6mths. In 2015 I got back to it more heavily inc tough half marathons, hell runs, Pennine Way over a couple of weeks & cycled from Lands End to John O’ Groats over 9 days last year. All that said I did bring myself to a mild seizure in 2015 at the end of a run. Entirely my fault though hadn’t had my tablets the night before, wasn’t properly hydrated and had only just had tablets before I went off road for an hour.

I don’t personally believe exercise in itself is dangerous, however I do believe it is necessary for you to fully appreciate your body/brain requirements before you do too much. You can never be exactly who you were before so I would recommend you take it easy and bring yourself back over months. Personally I regularly walked miles before getting back into running.

Good luck with it x

Alice_Ro in reply to DTBI

Thanks you, that's helpfulto know. And good to hear about your gradual progress to some very impressive feats. I don't know if I'll ever be able to do things so physically challenging again because of my heart now, but the cardiologists have given me the go ahead to start exercise and it's so helpful for my mental health. I was a competitive sprinter until a few years ago (won't be trying a 100m any time soon!), but sport is a part of me I've really been missing.

I agree with the advice with taking things very gently. I have been walking and doing gentle yoga and I'm now doing the couch to 5k app but sticking to the first couple of weeks programmes, e.g. light jog 90s walk 2 min, repeat.

I am definitely going to be more mindful of being hydrated these days too :)

Hello Alice

It has taken me 5 years to finally understand why I have been struggling so much with exercising at times. It seemed to me that exercise always made me go backwards with my symptoms. What I now understand is that I have limited energy these days compared to the old me and as I have been pushing myself so hard at work, causing cognitive fatigue, I didn’t have much and sometimes no energy left to use for exercise. I hate that I can’t do it all these days but now respect that I need to spread out my energy between physical, mental and social energy so I can live a happy and balanced life. My work was draining me so much that the rest of my life suffered and there’s a lot more to life than work! So spread your energy wisely as fatigue is a factor for most of us and when we are fatigued our symptoms come back. Good luck and best wishes to you, from Louise x

Alice_Ro in reply to Positiveme

Thank you for the wise words. I hadn't really thought of light exercise as energy sapping before but when everything else is tiring me out it all adds up. I've just reduced my hours at work so hoping my non work life can start to rebuild soon. Thanks xx