Use exercise to avoid/abort a migraine headache

If you have followed my previous articles, you know that I am a big fan of exercising in general. Furthermore, you also know that

I believe exercise can be the best way to abort an oncoming migraine episode.

Over the years numerous studies have been written that highlighted the link between regular exercise and a decrease in migraine episodes. However, there are also those who suggest that physical exercise can cause migraine headaches. I cannot speak for anyone else but in my case, exercise helps relieve migraine headaches that have already started and aborts migraine headaches that are about to start.

When you exercise, the body releases endorphins, a chemical that exists in the nervous system and in other parts of the body. These chemicals are also known as neurotransmitters and they help reduce our perception of pain in our bodies. A large amount of migraine drugs attempt to stimulate the release of endorphins. Keep in mind that if you choose to use migraine drugs, you will likely have to endure side effects that could be equally debilitating.

Rather than relying on drugs to help stimulate the release of endorphins, migraine headache sufferors should develop a daily exercise schedule to naturally do so.

This helps ensure that you have an adequate amount of endorphins activated regularly to help cope with any migraine headaches. How much exercise is enough?

In my case, 30-45 minutes of continuous exercise each day is enough to lower my incidence of migraine headaches. However, it will vary for each person. What I have found is that if I eat an offending food or a number of offending items, I will develop a migraine headache over the next 48 hours. What I also discovered was that if I go for a 30 minute jog in the morning during the next two days, the migraine headache does not develop. This means that I could potentially ingest certain items that have been left out of my diet. I am a big fan of red wine but as you all know, red wine is extremely problematic for migraine sufferers. Since I discovered this, I have been able to drink one or two glasses of red wine a few times as long as I keep to my morning jogs over the next two days. It is important to note that I cannot wait until the evening to exercise. If a migraine attack has started and I go for a run in the evening, the migraine does usually go away but the first 15-20 minutes of the run are not very pleasant. However, try to stick to a morning exercise routine when possible.

It will likely be slightly different in each person’s case but I believe that the general idea should work. Remember that the key point is consistency as with everything else. It is necessary to experiment to see what exactly you might need to do in terms of exercise and at what specific intensity to reduce the frequency of migraine headaches or abort them. Another thing worth mentioning is that this does not represent a way for you to go back to your previous diet. On the contrary, you should still avoid most items that can trigger migraine headaches for you. However, at least you have a way to deal with the episodes if and when you ingest a particular food item that is known to cause migraine headaches for you.

 

2 responses to Use exercise to avoid/abort a migraine headache

  1. Steve

    Thanks. I have been looking for opinion about exercise during and after an episode of migraine.
    I use a Concept 2 rower 3 x per week. I row 3,000M quite briskly although I am 65.
    I have just had a cluster of 5 migraines with auras in the last 4 days.
    The latest was 2 hours ago and I am off to row now. I can report back later if there is any interest.

    Steve

    • LWM LWM– Author

      The questions I would ask:

      How long have you been rowing and how long does it take to row 3,000m?
      What is your level of fatigue at the end of the session?
      Have you changed your diet recently?

      Please let me know if this is something that is still occurring.

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