Stopping Exercise Migraine Before It Happens

January 3, 2016

exercise migraine

New Year’s resolutions may come and go, but some people rely on exercise to maintain a healthy weight, mental health and prevent age-related diseases. If you’re an avid exerciser who has experienced exercise migraine, you know that letting go of your exercise routines can wreak havoc on your health. The benefits of exercise are tangible, so getting in front of an exercise migraine before it happens can improve your overall health in so many ways.

Exercise and Anxiety and Depression

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, anxiety disorders affect 40 million adults and are the most common mental health disorders in the United States. Some studies have shown that people who exercise regularly are less likely to be affected by anxiety and depression than those who don’t. And for those who do suffer from anxiety and depression, exercise can provide immediate relief of an episode that will last for several hours, if not longer.

Exercise and Cardiovascular Health

The American Heart Association Recommends at least 150 minutes per week of moderate physical activity or 75 minutes per week of vigorous exercise to prevent stroke and heart disease. Physical activity is considered anything that gets your body moving and makes you burn calories. Heart disease and stroke are currently the number 1 and 5 killers of Americans and are largely preventable.

Exercise and Migraines

Exercise triggers migraine for many migraine suffers. So how can you get the benefits of exercise without bringing on a headache that will ruin your day?

  1. Stay Hydrated – Exercise itself isn’t a migraine trigger. Some physical reaction to exercise, such as water depletion, generally triggers a migraine. Drink water throughout the day before your workout to ensure dehydration isn’t the cause of your exercise migraine. Taking breaks throughout your workout to drink water may also help.
  2. Start Slow – If you’re anxious about working out because you want to avoid a migraine, even a brief walk can provide many of the mental health and cardiovascular benefits of exercise. Walking is free, doesn’t require a gym membership and may even help you socialize with neighbors or friends.
  3. Exercise on a Full Stomach (But Not Too Full) – Just like dehydration, hunger can cause migraine in some people. Don’t workout hungry. Eat a light, high-protein meal one to two hours before working out.
  4. Keep a Journal – If exercise is still causing migraines, keep a journal of everything you eat and drink and what type of workout you do. Finding exactly what triggers your migraine can lead you to a manageable workout that won’t cause migraines.


American Heart Association. (n.d.). American Heart Association recommendations for physical activity in adults. Retrieved from

Anxiety and Depression Association of America. (2015). Exercise for stress and anxiety. Retrieved from




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