• Wed, Oct 12 2011

One More Reason To Exercise: Migraine Prevention!

If you suffer from migraines triggered by fragrances, loud noises, or bright lights, a trip to the gym may sound like the worst kind of torture. But according to a study by scientists at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden, regular exercise can actually offer powerful migraine prevention.

The study, which was published in Cephalalgia, compared groups of people who exercised for 40 minutes, 3 days per week with those who took medication and did not exercise, and those who performed relaxation techniques and did nothing else.

The results? All three groups saw a reduction in migraines, as opposed to doing nothing. But exercise and medication were equally effective, cutting migraine substantially.

Anyone who’s ever had to go out-of-pocket for migraine medication knows that it can get pretty spendy–especially compared to the relatively low cost of a gym membership, yoga class, or good pair of outdoor walking shoes. The study doesn’t explain how strenuous the exercise in the study was, but even a moderate amount of physical activity was reviewed as being a positive addition.

This study joins a rapidly-growing body of information touting the many, many, many benefits of an active lifestyle.  Regular (that is, at least 3 times per week) activity has already been shown to cut your risk of diabetes and boost your immune system, as well as make you feel happier, less anxious, and less forgetful. So it’s no surprise that it can also help cut the possibility of what’s usually a tension and stress related ailment, too.

Exercise probably won’t work to relieve a migraine once its set in, but if you needed one more reason to get your autumn exercise plan underway, prevention of a crippling headache is definitely a good one to add to the pile.

Image: Piotr Marcinski / Shutterstock

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  • Janelle

    I think it should be noted that exercise can be a trigger for some migraine sufferers. Also, the difference in the study was not significant, so I wouldn’t advise that people start exercising in lieu of taking their medication (not yet, anyways). I’d be curious to hear how migraine medicine and exercise work together to prevent migraine.