New research indicates migraines may be reduced by exercise

Studies show migraine sufferers may experience fewer headaches if they are willing to work for it.

According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, a new approach in migraine prevention is aerobic exercise, which is associated with positive side effects.

Exercising three times a week for about 40 minutes each time had the same migraine reducing effects as taking the Topiramate, a prescription migraine-reducing drug, the research shows.

A migraine is a neurologic phenomenon manifested by a throbbing, typically one-sided headache, said Assistant Professor of Physician’s Assistance John Lopes.

“The headache may be preceded by some sort of sensory phenomenon (aura) that might include tingling, seeing flashing lights or ringing in the ears,” he said.

Spring Lake freshman Ashley Foster said she experiences migraines three to four times a week.

“They are so bad that I am prescribed medication to take when I feel one coming on,” Foster said.

Foster said she hasn’t tried working out to reduce her migraines.

“I never thought to work out because the last thing I want to do is move when I have a migraine,” she said. “But I would consider it because I’ll do anything to get rid of them.”

Triggers tend to be unique to each individual, said Jeffrey Edwards, associate professor in the Faculty School of Health Sciences.

“Migraines often run in families and the risk for having migraines may be up to four times higher in an individual with a first-degree relative with migraines,” Lopes said.

Edwards recommends not beginning to exercise when a migraine is heavily in session.

“Also don’t eat an hour and a half before starting exercise,” he said. “It may cause blood glucose problems which are related to migraine problems.”

Hydration is also important for people who are exercising during a migraine because dehydration is a common trigger, he said.

Lopes said only the person with headaches will know if exercise will help or worsen their condition.

“Some patients will benefit from regular exercise while others may have their headaches triggered by vigorous exercise,” he said. “It would be a matter of trying exercise and seeing what happens.”


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