If you’re prone to migraines and are looking for ways to prevent them, exercise may be the answer. Not only does working out offer many benefits for your overall health and well-being, but it has the potential to reduce the number of migraines you may experience and decrease their intensity. When combined with proper practice, hydration, and treatment, certain exercises could lead you to a healthier mind and more days of relief. Here are the top 5 exercises for preventing migraines.
1. Walking, Biking, and Jogging
Perhaps the most underrated form of exercise is walking. Walking for just 30 minutes can improve one’s cardiac health and alleviate depression and prevent weight gain. A study in The Journal of Headache and Pain found that cross-training, cycling, dancing, jogging, running, swimming, and walking are all known to decrease the number of migraines one will experience and their intensity and overall duration. To reap the benefits of moderate-intensity exercises, you want to be sure to elevate your heart rate, sweat after 10 minutes of activity, and quicken your breath to the point where you carry a conversation but not sing.
The purpose of aerobics is to strengthen your muscles, joints, ligaments, and bones. However, this form of activity is also excellent for releasing endorphins, otherwise known as your body’s natural painkiller.
Classic aerobic exercises include:
- Jumping jacks
- Box jumps
- Jumping rope
- Running stairs
Try to start slow and increase your stamina as you progress in your fitness journey. Overall, your goal should be to move 150 to 300 minutes per week.
Yoga has many beneficial properties for your overall health, including heart health, arthritis relief, and more. But for those dealing with severe migraines, yoga could be the key to relief. A study in the International Journal of Yoga found that those who received standard treatment for migraines (e.g. medication) and practiced yoga between five to six times a week experienced fewer migraines with reduced intensity than those who only received typical treatment alone. Yoga is also known for relieving stress, which is often a migraine trigger.
4. Resistance Training and High-Intensity Training (HIIT)
High-intensity interval workouts, otherwise known as HIIT, consist of alternating between short cardio exercises and low-intensity exercises or rest. These workouts can often trigger migraines for individuals who suffer, so it’s essential to be aware of how your body responds. However, a recent study in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science shows that consistently performing high-intensity interval training can positively affect people suffering from migraines. According to the study, HIIT can reduce the number of migraines and their harshness.
When participating in HIIT, it’s crucial to start slow to avoid triggering a migraine. Try beginning your training with a five-minute walk or jog, or try light weightlifting. After you’ve finished your workout, be sure to gently stretch for five to 10 minutes to get your heart rate and blood pressure back to an average level. Doing so will help prevent soreness and your risk for a post-workout migraine.
5. Thai Chi
Thai Chi has been practiced for hundreds of years and typically works to improve balance, coordination, and stability, on top of reducing pain, depression, and pain. Studies have shown that this ancient practice is also linked to helping those suffering from migraines. A particular study that involved 82 women with episodic migraines found that one hour of Thai Chi per day for five days each week for 12 weeks led to decreased body fat, better blood pressure, and a significant reduction in migraine attacks.
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