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Does Exercise Help Migraine?

0 2 years ago

Migraine attacks are often debilitating. They can knock you off track for hours, even days.

While genetic and environmental factors can cause migraine, sleeplessness, stress, and exercise are among the factors that can trigger them.

If you feel exercise has activated a migraine episode in the past, it’s natural to think about avoiding it. But research suggests that moderate, regular exercise helps over time.

So if you experience migraine and are looking for natural, preventive treatment, the question may not be, “To exercise or not to exercise?” but “What kind of exercise is best?”

Can exercise alleviate migraine?

Doctors often recommend preventive drugs to patients with frequent, unrelenting migraine episodes. Moderate exercise might be a good accompaniment.

Evidence suggests that moderate, regular exercise can reduce the frequency of migraine attacks, according to this 2019 review and literature analysis.

And according to a 2018 literature reviewTrusted Source

, exercise may improve quality of life for those with migraine.

Of 136 participants who gave up prescription drugs, caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco and began exercising regularly, 95 went from having 15 or more migraine episodes per month to fewer than 8 per month.

Additionally, moderate exercise can improve health conditions that frequently go along with having migraine.

Benefits include:

  • increasing the efficiency of oxygen inhaled, thus reducing risk for cardiovascular problems
  • reducing depression, anxiety, stress, and sleeplessness — known migraine triggers
  • improving self-esteem, making migraine management easier
  • increasing tolerance for migraine triggers over time

Aerobic and fat-burning exercise, done moderately and regularly, seem particularly good for decreasing anti-inflammatory markers in the brain.

Yoga and strength training, also done often and not too intensely, seem to lessen the frequency of migraine.

More research with larger populations and uniform standards of measuring pain is needed to confirm reports that moderate exercise can reduce pain levels and duration of migraine episodes.


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