It’s no secret that regular exercise is needed to maintain good overall health. If you suffer from migraines, however, the thought of exercising can be daunting. The good news is, specific exercises may help prevent them. Studies show that certain forms of activity, such as aerobics and Thai Chi, can slow the occurrence of migraines and make them less severe. When exercise is combined with hydration and proper medication or treatment prescribed by your doctor, you could experience fewer migraines.
Here are 5 of the best exercises for migraine sufferers.
Yoga has many beneficial properties for your health, including heart health, arthritis relief, and more. For those dealing with severe migraines, yoga could be the key to relief. A study published in the International Journal of Yoga found that those who received standard treatment (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.
The purpose of aerobics is to strengthen your muscles, joints, ligaments, and bones. It’s 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. Your end goal should be to move between 150 to 300 minutes weekly.
3. Walking, Jogging, and Biking
Perhaps the most underrated form of exercise is walking. Walking for just 30 minutes each day 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 for decreasing the number of migraines one will experience, 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.
4. Resistance Training and High-Intensity Interval 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. A recent study in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science, however, 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 as well as 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 have 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 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 per week for 12 weeks led to decreased body fat, better blood pressure, and a significant reduction in migraine attacks.
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