Can Exercise Help Prevent Migraines?

We all know exercise is good for you. It keeps internal organs functioning; it keeps the body healthy; it builds the immune system—the list is seemingly endless. But can we confidently add “helps to prevent migraines” to the numerous benefits that regular activity offers?

The short answer is yes; a carefully executed workout routine can naturally help to reduce the severity and frequency of chronic headaches and migraines.

While a small percentage of individuals experience issues with exercise-induced migraines, there has been extensive research proving that regular light to moderate cardio activity actually works to decrease the frequency and severity of chronic migraines in most cases. This is due to the variety of chemicals that are released throughout the body during exercise; these chemicals include endorphins (which help with pain control) and enkephalins (chemicals that naturally fight depression).

In one particular study, Swedish researchers observed three separate groups of chronic migraine sufferers. One group was assigned a moderate exercise routine; another was provided with topiramate (a drug specifically created to help with migraines); and the third was given a relaxing exercise routine. At the conclusion of the nine-month study, it was discovered that nearly all of the participants in each of the three groups had experienced fewer and less severe attacks than before. None of the groups showed signs of higher improvement than another, establishing that regular activity is a viable option for those who wish to avoid taking medication.

Start Off Slow

It’s important to note that in some instances exercise can actually be a trigger for migraines, so in order to make sure that exercise helps your migraine, we recommend the following general guidelines:


The advice and information contained in this article is for educational purposes only, and is not intended to replace or counter a physician’s advice or judgment. Please always consult your physician before taking any advice learned here or in any other educational medical material.
© The Pain Institute of Southern of Arizona, 2014
© Ascent Medical Marketing, 2014


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