I promised to get you some more evidence to answer the question: Does exercise aid in Migraine prevention? And in the interim, this news cropped up: The Journal Headache recently published a review of eight studies and four case reports of exercise as migraine therapy. Dr. Volker Busch of the University of Regensburg, Germany, reviewed the studies, and found that
"most studies did not find a significant reduction of headache attacks or duration due to regular exercise. Six of the studies demonstrated a reduction of pain intensity during the intervention."
Read full coverage at My Migraine Connection. Please note, though, that the answer is not "No." The answer Dr. Busch's review provides is that: 1) in the studies reviewed, there was not a significant reduction in number or duration of migraines; and 2) there is not yet sufficient evidence to state with certainty whether or not exercise helps.
Does this mean we give up on exercise? No! I gave you my little piece of anecdotal evidence a few weeks ago in the post Exercise for Migraine Prevention. My update since that time? I have exercised 27 of the last 30 days. I have had 3 migraines in that time. Contrast that with an average of 6.5 migraines per month for the last 7 months, with sporadic exercise. It's not scientific evidence of anything, mind you. All I can tell you is that exercise is making me feel good!
What does exercise do for us?
- Exercise releases endorphins, which are our body's own pain-killers.
- Exercise relaxes our muscles - it reduces muscular tension.
- Exercise reduces our general fatigue and helps us sleep better.
- Exercise tones our blood vessels and increases blood flow.
- Exercise reduces anxiety levels and increases relaxation.
- And then there's all that stuff about a healthy heart, a healthy weight, regulating our blood sugar, just the general things that keep us alive!
Read more on the benefits of exercise from migraine blogger James Cottrill at Relieve-Migraine-Headache.
It stands to reason, I believe, that exercise might reduce migraine frequency or severity. I can't promise you, of course, that it will do that for you. Migraine is, among other things, an outcome of a sensitive, highly reactive nervous system. Whatever we can do that makes us stronger, healthier, more relaxed, more stress-hardy, ought to make our systems less reactive.
Most of us are also aware of the problem of exercise-generated migraines. The key is to take it slow and gentle. A couple of great articles on how to work in some exercise without setting off migraine are Teri Robert's 10 Ways for Migraineurs to Sneak in Some Exercise, and Ellen Schnakenburg's Moving and Exercising and Migraine. Also remember to drink lots of water and avoid hot sun if it's a problem for you.
I don't have medical studies to back me up here! But medicine is art as well as science, and I'll tell you that all my doctors are telling me I need to get regular exercise! So don't let "it's not proven" mean "why bother?"
Breezy, clear, sun getting lower - time for a walk!
What does that sailboat image have to do with it? That was my daughter's first solo sail - she was getting some great exercise!
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