(NaturalNews) If you suffer from frequent headaches or migraines, chances are you shy away from exercise for fear of inducing a headache. You may be surprised to hear you can find relief through exercise. A recent Swedish study published in Headache: The Journal of Head and Face Pain showed that exercise does not seem to increase migraines. In fact, regular activity can reduce the number of migraines, the intensity of migraines and the need for pain medication.
The exercise program in the study was specific: for twelve weeks, 26 participants exercised for a total of 40 minutes. This included a 15-minute warm-up, followed by 20 minutes of more vigorous activity, and then ending with a 5-minute cool-down period. Researchers kept track of each participant's maximum use of oxygen (VO2MAX) to measure their fitness level.
Study participants logged their migraines during the entire study. They made note of the days in which the migraines occurred, how painful they were and how much pain medication was used during each occurrence.
By the end of the study, participants were logging fewer migraines; they occurred less often and with less intensity. Participants were also able to use less pain medication to treat their migraines. Maximum oxygen uptake was also noticeably increased.
Emma Varkey, of the Cephalea Headache Centre in Gothenburg, Sweden and co-author of the study says, "While the optimal amount of exercise for patients with migraine remains unknown, our evaluated program can now be tested further and compared to pharmacological and non-pharmacological treatments to see if exercise can prevent migraine."
Two large surveys in Norway produced conclusions similar to those of the Swedish study. The surveys questioned more than 68,000 adults about their exercise habits and their headache symptoms. Findings show that people who don't exercise are 14 percent more likely to experience headaches. It also points out that those who already deal with head pain may be less inclined to exercise.
Exercise is linked to many health benefits, including the prevention of health problems like diabetes and heart disease. It's important not to shun exercise, even if you suffer from frequent headaches or migraines. Instead, try to find a form of exercise that agrees with you. Including a warm-up period and monitoring the intensity of your work-out may help. Activities like yoga or outdoor walks may also help bring exercise back into your life. And with a benefit of reduced headaches, it's bound to be worth a try.
Elizabeth Walling is a freelance writer specializing in health and family nutrition. She is a strong believer in natural living as a way to improve health and prevent modern disease. She enjoys thinking outside of the box and challenging common myths about health and wellness. You can visit her blog to learn more: www.livingthenourishedlife.com/2009/10/welco...