If you suffer from migraines, you might wonder if exercise is a good idea. Some folks say it can worsen your symptoms, but experts disagree. Dr. Dale Bond, a research director in Connecticut, believes that while vigorous exercise might trigger migraines in a few people, the overall benefits of staying active outweigh the risks.
Dr. Jennifer Kriegler, a neurologist, advises against exercising during a migraine attack because it can make the pain worse. However, when you’re pain-free, exercise can help prevent future attacks by reducing stress, a common migraine trigger.
Exercise also releases natural feel-good hormones called endorphins and enkephalins, which act as painkillers and antidepressants in your body. If you’ve been avoiding exercise due to migraine concerns, you might miss many benefits.
Here’s how to safely include exercise in your routine if you have migraines:
1. Choose an Activity You Enjoy: Opt for activities like brisk walking, jogging, swimming, or cycling that you find enjoyable. Start with low-impact exercises to avoid jostling your body too much.
2. Build Stamina Gradually: Begin with regular walking, and as you get comfortable, gradually move to higher-intensity exercises like jumping jacks or running stairs to strengthen your body.
3. Eat Smart: Consume a protein-rich snack about 90 minutes before exercising, like protein bars or nuts. Eating too close to your workout or long without food can trigger migraines.
4. Stay Hydrated: Drink plenty of water before, during, and after exercise, as dehydration can lead to migraines.
5. Warm Up and Cool Down: Prior to your workout, warm up with a short walk or light weights. Afterward, cool down with a walk or gentle stretches to reduce muscle soreness.
6. Keep Cool: Exercise in a cooler environment, especially on hot days, to avoid overheating, which can trigger migraines.
7. Use Proper Posture: Maintaining the correct form while exercising is crucial to prevent stress on your head, neck, and shoulders, which can trigger migraines. Seek advice from an exercise specialist or online videos.
8. Consider Non-Aerobic Exercise: Hatha yoga and non-aerobic exercises can also benefit migraine sufferers by addressing factors like neck pain, anxiety, and stress reduction.
9. Consult Your Doctor: Talk to your doctor about your migraine medications and their timing. Some medications can affect your heart rate and blood pressure, especially if you’re on beta blockers or calcium channel blockers. Depending on your migraine frequency, there are medications available to prevent migraines.
In summary, exercise can benefit the health of migraine sufferers, but it’s essential to choose activities you enjoy, gradually build your stamina, eat and hydrate properly, and maintain good exercise habits. Always consult your doctor for personalized advice on managing your migraines.