Tired of pumping your body full of pain killers to prevent painful migraines? Try a minimum of 40 minutes of exercise at least three times a week and you’ll get the same benefits as if you were taking migraine drugs.
Exercise is just as good as drugs to prevent migraines, according to a new study from the Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden. The study involved 91 migraine sufferers. One-third was asked to exercise 40 minutes on an exercise bike, three times a week. One-third was asked to take Topiramate, a popular medication used to prevent migraines, and one-third were asked to do relaxation exercises such as deep and rhythmic breathing. The results? The number of migraines fell in all three groups!
“Our conclusion is that exercise can act as an alternative to relaxations and Topiramate when it comes to preventing migraines, and is particularly appropriate for patients who are unwilling or unable to take preventative medicines,” Dr. Emma Varkey, the physiotherapist and doctoral student at the Sahlgrenska Academy who carried out the study told Science Daily.
A 2009 study, published in Headache: The Journal of Head and Face Pain — and co-authored by Dr. Varkey — found that people with headaches and migraines are typically less active than those without headaches and migraines. This led her team to look deeper into the effects of exercise and migraines. Their study used an aerobic exercise program based on indoor cycling (for continuous aerobic exercise) designed to improve oxygen uptake. The results were: After the treatment period, the patients’ maximum oxygen uptake increased significantly, migraines had not worsened any time during the study period, and the best part, during the last month of treatment, there was a significant decrease in the number of migraine attacks, the number of days with migraine per month, headache intensity and amount of headache medication used.
A run through the park sounds better than popping a bunch of Topiramate – not to mention the money you’d save! According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, the drug “works by decreasing abnormal excitement in the brain.” Besides preventing migraines, the drug is also used to treat seizures. Click here for drug info as it has a long list of scary side effects.