As numerous studies have shown, getting regular exercise can help prevent onset of migraine, which is why doctors will recommend it for those suffering with the condition.  How does a fitness routine help? Put simply, physical activity done regularly is a form of stress relief, and it improves quality of sleep, which reduces frequency and severity of attacks. Improvements to overall health, no doubt, make you better able to take on this difficult condition.
A problem can arise, though: sometimes, the stress and other effects on the body related to exercise can actual serve to trigger onset of headache and other symptoms. It’s important to note, though, that working out, itself, is not the problem.  Rather, the core issue is that other factors like dehydration and lack of a proper warm up are the culprits. It therefore becomes important to put in place an approach to exercise that minimizes risk of attack.
Keeping Migraine Off The Treadmill
Managed properly, a good fitness routine will undoubtedly prove beneficial to migraineurs. So what should you look out for if you’re considering starting a fitness routine? Here are some essential tips:
Hydrate: Dehydration is a known trigger for migraine. In fact, according to a study by Dr. Mark G. Spigt and his colleagues, migraineurs that were encouraged to drink an additional 1.5 liters a day for two weeks had fewer headaches with reduced intensity.  Since working out can dry you out, it’s absolutely essential that you emphasize drinking water before and after your sessions. How can you tell if you’re getting enough water? The color of your urine is a good indicator; the lighter it is, the better off you are. 
Ensure Proper Diet: Most important for a migraine sufferer is that they don’t exercise on an empty stomach. This can lead to a further drop in blood sugar, which can directly trigger attack. Of course, you don’t want to work out immediately after eating either, which is why it’s typically recommended that you have a meal about one and a half hours before you get into the gym.  Of course there are many things to keep in mind when it comes to diet, but, for a fitness routine, it’s a good idea to avoid foods that are high in processed sugars. Also, after your workout, drinking a protein shake and eating fruit will help the body recover.
Scale Up: To those newer to regular exercise, one of the biggest mistakes you can make is jumping into a full routine without properly scaling up. If it’s been years since you’ve been a gym regular, you may want to start off with more moderate activities. Not only will this let you gauge whether attacks are happening—as well as what may be bringing them on—it’ll prevent other injuries. As you get more comfortable with these activities, you’ll find room to scale up efforts. Contrarily, those that already are gym regulars may want to actually moderate some intensity; for instance, if you participate in strength training, you might need to increase number of reps and use lighter weights. 
Warm Up: No matter how much exercise you’re currently getting, it’s also important to ensure that you spend at least 10 to 15 minutes prior to the work out getting yourself warmed up. This should include activities that raise heart rate and breathing, like jumping jacks, as well stretches (which you should also do following workouts). The latter is important because it reduces muscle tension, which can be a trigger.  In terms of stress relief, activities that emphasize stretching and breathing like yoga, can also help.
As you work on your exercise routine, try to be responsive and listen to your body. If migraine attacks do happen, remember that it’s associated aspects—and not the physical activity itself—that is the culprit. Do what you can to identify these to avoid them.
Fitter for Tomorrow
Done properly, an exercise routine will no doubt help you manage migraine. If you’re not sure where to begin, talk to your doctor or a trainer to see if they have any suggestions. In the long term, the benefits can’t be denied. It’s never easy to make lifestyle changes, but the good thing about it is that it places the condition more under your control. By working out, you’re taking an active part in minimizing the impact of migraine.
If you’re struggling with migraine, the team at Migraine Treatment Centers of America is ready to help. Employing the latest in techniques and technologies, they’ve helped countless patients achieve results in managing the condition. To learn more about what they do, call a Patient Care Manager there at (855) 300-6822 today!
Spigt, M. G., E. C. Kuijper, C. P. Schayck, J. Troost, P. G. Knipschild, V. M. Linssen, and J. A. Knottnerus. 2005. “Increasing The Daily Water Intake For The Prophylactic Treatment Of Headache: A Pilot Trial*”. European Journal Of Neurology 12 (9): 715-718. Wiley-Blackwell. doi:10.1111/j.1468-1331.2005.01081.x.