10 Ways for Migraineurs To Sneak In Some Exercise

Patient Expert

We're often told that we need to exercise for better health; told that our Migraines and headaches would improve if we exercise. We all understand that, BUT how are we to exercise when we feel as if our heads might explode? Good question!

Below, you'll find some ways to sneak in a bit of exercise... some simple exercises that we'll be able to manage even on some of the days we're in pain. They may not seem like much, but the effects of them will build up...

  1. Just Stretch.

Careful, gentle stretching feels good and is good for us. Stand with your feet shoulders width apart. Slowly bring one arm up over your head and bend at the waist the opposite direction. Repeat the other direction. Gently bend forward at the waist. If your balance is good, put one foot on a chair and bend your knee to stretch in. These may be done holding a chair if balance is a problem. You can also do stretches sitting. If your balance is good, stretching in a hot shower is great! Another simple stretch can be accomplished by sitting on the floor with your legs out straight in front of you. Bend forward and grasp your legs, as close to your ankles as you can. Don't bounce. Just grasp, hold a few counts, release and sit up straight. Take your time and repeat as many times as you can.

  1. Dance With Your Swiffer! UGH! We all hate to dust the furniture and wipe down the walls, corners, and ceilings for cobwebs. Put on your favorite music, and dance away that dust! Don't be tempted to skip the top shelves or far corners. Again, stretching is good. If you're concerned about the neighbors wondering what you're doing, pull the draperies. Of course, it's more fun to leave them wondering!

  2. Fold That Laundry! We all have baskets of laundry to be folded. Put the laundry basked on the floor. Then bend to take the laundry out -- one piece at a time -- to fold it. You're doing something that needs done and getting in some bending at the same time.

  3. Work the Stairs.

When you need to go up- or downstairs at home, turn around and make the trip a second time. Walking stairs is great exercise. If you live or work several floors up, and aren't able to walk up the stairs, but can walk down them, do. Even going down the stairs gives you a bit of exercise, and is better for you than the elevator.

  1. Pick Up Some Veggies. Canned soup or vegetables make wonderful light hand weights. You can use them to work on upper body strength and/or range of motion. These exercises can be done one arm at a time, standing or sitting. Start with your arms straight at your side and bring them straight out to the side, pause level with the shoulder, then on up, straight toward the ceiling. Bring slowly back to your side. Do the same moving your arm forward. As you get used to these movements, increase the number of repetitions.

  2. Park Farther Away

When we run errands or go shopping, most of us try to park as close to the door as possible. Don't. Instead, choose a parking space at the end of the aisle away from the door so you walk farther. When grocery shopping, don't leave your cart next to your car. Take the extra steps to return it to the containment area in the lot. Every step counts.

  1. Lift Your Feet. Did you hate leg lifts in gym class? Do they hurt your back now. There's still an easy way to work your legs. Sit in a steady chair and lift one leg slowly until it's parallel with the floor. Hold for a few seconds, then slowly lower it. You can do this with your toe pointed away from you and with your toe pointed toward you to work different muscles. Then repeat with the other leg. Again, as you get used to the activity, increase repetitions.
  1. Remake Your Bed.

After you've been up a bit, and you aren't stiff, instead of just pulling up the covers on your bed, strip it. Stripping off all the sheets and blankets and remaking the bed is a good mini workout with a bit of light lifting and some good stretching.

  1. Play! Take some time to play with your children, grandchildren, or pets. It's fun, will lift your spirits, and gives you a bit of exercise to boot!

  2. Watch for opportunities! Once you review these easy ways to "sneak in" some exercise, you'll find it easy to spot other ways. These tiny bits of exercise can definitely add up to a healthy boost. BE SURE TO CHECK with your doctor first if your health in any way restricts your physical activity.

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Medical review by John Claude Krusz, PhD, MD

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