More recent research suggests different forms of exercise may be helpful in reducing the frequency and severity of headaches and migraines!
A 2020 study published in the American Academy of Neurology demonstrated the effects of yoga on migraine sufferers. The participants, who experience between 4 to 14 headaches monthly, either received medication only or yoga and medication.
The yoga group received supervised yoga sessions 3 days/week for one month, and subsequently continued these sessions individually for 5 days/week for a further two months.
Findings showed improvements in both groups, but were much higher in the yoga group. The average number of headaches reduced by 48%, compared to a 12% decrease in the medication only group. The yoga group also took less medication (number of pills), reducing the cost of treatment.
The researchers concluded that further research into the longer term effects are required, however that yoga is beneficial for migraine sufferers.
Several other sources suggest moderate exercise amounts can reduce migraine frequency and severity. The key appears to be a consistent and regular exercise regime.
Benefits of Exercise
Migraine and headache sufferers who exercise regularly find they have:
- An improved general mood
- Decreased sensitivity to pain, secondary to endorphins released during exercise
- Healthier sleep pattern and lower stress levels
- Reduced number of attacks, and lessened intensity of attacks
Other more general benefits of exercise include weight management, improvement of general health, increase strength of muscles and bones, and reduces risk of chronic disease.
Whilst the above is pretty convincing, the research in this field is limited and largely inconclusive, as it is difficult to determine what type/frequency of exercise is most beneficial. It is also difficult to determine exactly what part of exercise helps to reduce headaches and migraines. Many studies which find the benefit of exercise to be inconclusive, make the suggestion that exercise should be used as an adjunct to migraine and headache management, as it is currently sub-optimally managed!
Please do not hesitate to contact us on 1800 432 322 or send an email to [email protected] if you have any questions, we would love to help!
Amin, F. M., Aristeidou, S., Baraldi, C., Czapinska-Ciepiela, E. K., Ariadni, D. D., Di Lenola, D., Fenech, C., Kampouris, K., Karagiorgis, G., Braschinsky, M., Linde, M., & European Headache Federation School of Advanced Studies (EHF-SAS) (2018). The association between migraine and physical exercise. The journal of headache and pain, 19(1), 83. https://doi.org/10.1186/s10194-018-0902-y
Anand Kumar, Rohit Bhatia, Gautam Sharma, Dhanlika Dhanlika, Sreenivas Vishnubhatla, Rajesh Kumar Singh, Deepa Dash, Manjari Tripathi, M.V. Padma Srivastava. Effect of yoga as add-on therapy in migraine . Neurology, 2020; 10.1212/WNL.0000000000009473 DOI: 10.1212/WNL.0000000000009473
Irby, M. B., Bond, D. S., Lipton, R. B., Nicklas, B., Houle, T. T., & Penzien, D. B. (2016). Aerobic Exercise for Reducing Migraine Burden: Mechanisms, Markers, and Models of Change Processes. Headache, 56(2), 357–369. https://doi.org/10.1111/head.12738