Results of a new study presented at the international congress of Headache & migraine has found that people with migraine who exercise can reduce the frequency of their attacks, but doing so requires a really good workout a couple of times a week for the most benefit.
Researchers at the University of Basel, Switzerland, report that both moderate continuous exercise (MCT) and high-intensity interval training (HIT) resulted in a significant reduction in migraine days among migraineurs, with HIT being associated with the highest reduction.
“HIT is a safe training modality for migraineurs showing more pronounced effects on migraine attack reduction, cerebrovascular health indices and maximal oxygen uptake compared to MCT,” the researchers, with lead author, Alice Minghetti, MSc, Department of Sport, Exercise and Health, University of Basel, Switzerland, concluded. “Thus, supervised aerobic exercise should be considered a complementary preventive and treatment strategy for migraineurs.”
To test the efficacy of exercise in reducing migraine frequency, the researchers randomly assigned migraineurs to a 12-week regimen of HIT (n = 8), MCT (n = 8), or a control group with no exercise training (n = 8).
The HIT and MCT groups participated in exercise twice a week for 12 weeks. HIT consisted of 4 consecutive sets of running exercise for 4 minutes at 95% of maximal heart rate followed by 3 minutes at 75% of maximal heart rate, for a total exercise time of 28 minutes per session.
MCT consisted of running for 45 minutes at 70% to 75% of maximal heart rate.
Richard Katesmark comments; “It has been known anecdotally for sometime that regular exercise is often beneficial for migraine sufferers, so some research confirming this is welcome.
Of course there will be exceptions as some types of migraine can be triggered by vigorous exercise.
Also it is very important people should gradually build their fitness levels (taking professional advice where necessary), & not suddenly launch themselves into intensive exercise programmes.”