How Can Exercise Affect Migraines?
It probably strikes you that exercising and migraines would not seem to be at all compatible.Studies indicate that approximately 18% of American women and 6% of American men suffer from migraines. A migraine is not a typical headache; it is a chronic illness that can be debilitating to those who suffer from it. Migraine is best referred to as a syndrome because it causes not just a headache, but a collection of symptoms including nausea, vomiting, dizziness, extreme sensitivity to sound, light, touch, and smell, as well as tingling or numbness in the face. The exact causes of migraine are not clear, but it can be triggered by many things. For some, exercise is a trigger.
Why Does Exercising Trigger a Migraine?
Unfortunately, doctors and scientists still don’t understand what causes exercise headaches but sustained exertion is a known migraine trigger. Some studies suggest that changes in blood flow to the brain during a workout could be a cause. Other experts believe it's the sudden drop of blood sugar caused by intense physical activity. It’s important to note that these factors can also cause exercise headaches in those who don’t experience migraines.
In other words, while those with preexisting migraine may have one triggered by exercise, others who don’t normally get migraines may still get an exercise-induced headache. An exercise induced headache can be similar in intensity to a migraine but lacks the other accompanying symptoms such as light sensitivity, dizziness, and numbing. Still, both types of headaches are enormously unpleasant.
Exercising and Migraines Can Coexist
How to Prevent an Exercise-Induced Migraine
Though modern science has not yet pinpointed the reason for exercise-induced migraines, doctors have found ways to help prevent them. We’ve listed a few techniques for migraine sufferers to potentially find relief.
Warm-up – First and foremost, warm up. Warming up before exercising is critical in many ways but is especially important to preventing migraines. It allows your body to slowly acclimate to the new level of intensity and helps prevent muscle soreness, which can sometimes provoke a migraine later on.
Begin slowly – As you start exercising, start slowly. Sudden activity shocks the body, which can cause a migraine. Take an extra ten to fifteen minutes to ease your body into your workout.
Stay hydrated – Dehydration may be a leading cause of migraines. Keeping well-hydrated will not only ward off migraines, but will help you perform better during your workout. Plus, drinking water has myriad other benefits including healthier skin, nails and hair, increased levels of energy, and weight loss.
Eat after exercising – Doctors recommend migraine-sufferers eat a full meal within an hour after exercising in order to bring blood sugar levels back to normal. Be sure your meal includes healthy proteins and starches to replenish and re-energize your body.
Exercising Regularly Decreases Migraines
Exercise as regularly as possible. Studies have found that regular exercise decreases the frequency of migraines. If you’re exercising, don’t stop your workout routine suddenly. The sudden cessation of an exercise program can bring an onset of migraine, as can the sudden re-starting of an exercise program.
If you're about to get started on a new exercise routine and need a little advice, stop by our store in Thousand Oaks or give us a call. RX Fitness is here to help with your fitness goals, whatever they may be. We carry a variety of fitness equipment and accessories for every goal and budget. Come in and let us help you find exactly what you're looking for. And don't forget to check out Tim's best-selling book, Fitness Equipment – A Shopper's Guide, on Amazon and other online book sellers as well as in our store.
Contact Tim Adams for a free consultation or stop by the store and take something for a test drive. We’re here to help.