One question that comes up frequently is the relationship between exercise and migraine headaches. Some people say that regular exercise helps their headaches. Others state that their migraines are brought on by exercise. So what should a person do?
Exercise has tremendous benefits – not only for people with migraines, but for everyone. In the face of overwhelming evidence regarding the effects for the heart, the brain, the lungs, preventing injuries, and immune system, and, frankly, for a sense of physical well being, the benefits of exercise cannot be overstated. Whether
Every physician who deals with headaches, has their own approach. The following is what I recommend.
If you are among the majority of people for whom exercise does not trigger a headache, by all means, continue to do so. In fact, as many people find that regular exercise reduces the frequency and intensity of headaches, I frequently suggest people to either start or continue their activity. Whether the value of exercise is due to stress relief (a frequent headache trigger) or a physiologic response, is unclear; however, you cannot argue with the results!
If, however, exercise triggers your headaches, than we need a different approach. One approach has been to make sure that a person is adequately hydrated prior to exercise. In one study, people who drank four glasses of water per day, had an average of 21 fewer headache hours per month! Another approach, is to start slowly with the exercise. Work out at lower intensity than what would trigger a headache, and to slowly increase the frequency, the duration, or the intensity of the exercise.
If that approach does not work, consider taking some kind of preventive treatment to help prevent the headaches. Remember, the idea is to stop them before they start so that they will have a minimal impact on your life.