Finally, certain exercise won't make our Migraines worse!

Nancy Harris Bonk Health Guide
  • Maintaining a healthy lifestyle and exercise program with Migraine disease is not easy. For some people, exercise may be a double edged sword that triggers a Migraine attack. It seems researchers in Sweden have designed an exercise program that will improve our overall health and more importantly, may not exacerbate our Migraines.


    This small study followed 20 Migraineurs, three times a week, for three months. The goal of the study was to formulate an exercise program hoping to increase Migraine patients' oxygen level intake without making their Migraines worse. The participants were placed on stationary exercise bikes under a physiotherapist's guidance at the study site or exercised in their homes or local gyms (with permission from the researchers.) Other forms of aerobic exercise such as jogging, swimming, cycling or Nordic walking were also accepted. During the study, only one patient suffered a Migraine that was directly linked to the exercise program.

    Add This Infographic to Your Website or Blog With This Code:


    To be included in the study, participants were between the ages of 18 and 65 and had at least two to eight Migraines a month, with or without aura, one year before the study began. Anyone who took Migraine prevention medications, antidepressants, and/or antipsychotic medications, and anyone who had substance abuse issues with drugs or alcohol were excluded from the study. Even those who regularly exercised were not able to participate in the study. 


    Researchers concluded in this study that stationary biking, cycling, and other aerobic exercise was well tolerated and did not increase the participants' Migraines. Furthermore, they found the warm-up and cool-down periods of the exercise period extremely important because it increased the participants' oxygen intake levels.


    Researcher Emma Varkey of Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, in Sweden stated:

    "We could see that those who participated in the study were much fitter after the training period, since their ability to absorb oxygen increased considerably."2




    "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."3

    While it is important to avoid Migraine triggers such as MSG, certain foods, and dehydration, exercise can trigger a horrible Migraine attack for some. (For more information on Migraine triggers continue reading HERE.)  


    If, in fact, working out on a stationary exercise bike doesn't trigger a Migraine attack and promotes better health, that's great news. It may be time to get my bike out of the garage. 




    1 Varkey, Emma, RPT; Cider Asa Carlsson,RPT, PhD; Linde, Mattias,MD, PhD. "A Study to Evaluate the Feasibility of an Aerobic Exercise Program in Patients with Migraine." Headache 2008; 17:563-570. doii:10.1111/j.1526-4610.2008.01231.x


    Add This Infographic to Your Website or Blog With This Code:

    2 Health News. "Safe exercise for migraine sufferers." April 17, 2009.


    3 Stein, Jeannine. "Migraine sufferers, lace up your sneakers." Los Angeles Times. April 3, 2009.


    © Nancy Bonk, 2009.
    Last updated April 21, 2009.

Published On: April 21, 2009