10 Ways for Migraineurs to Sneak in Some Exercise

Patient Expert
View as:|
1 of 11

We're often told that we need to exercise for better health, 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!

Just stretch

Careful, gentle stretching feels good and is good for you. If you have good balance, stretching in a hot shower is great. Take your time and repeat as many times as you can.

Dance with your broom

Put on your favorite music and dance as you dust the furniture and wipe down the walls, corners and ceilings. Again, stretching is good so don’t skip the top shelves and far corners.

Fold the laundry

Put the laundry basket on the floor and then bend to take the laundry out one piece at a time. This way, you get the laundry folded and some bending in at the same time.

Work the stairs

When you need to go up or down the stairs at home, turn around and make the trip a second time. If you live or work several floors up, walk instead of using the elevator, or if you can’t walk up them, walk down. Walking stairs is great exercise.

Pick up some veggies

Canned soup or vegetables make wonderful light hand weights. You can use them to work on upper body strength or range of motion. Start with arms at your sides, bring them straight out to the side, pause level with the shoulder and then raise all the way up toward the ceiling. Do the same moving your arms forward, in front of your body. Increase repetitions as you get used to the movements.

Park farther away

When you run errands or go shopping, choose a parking space at the end of the aisle away from the door so you can walk farther. When grocery shopping, take the extra steps to put your cart away in the parking lot. Every step counts.

Lift your feet

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. Repeat with the other leg and increase repetitions as you get used to the activity.

Remake your bed

After you’ve been up for a bit and aren’t stiff, instead of just pulling up the sheets, strip it. Completely remaking the bed is a good mini workout with light lifting and some good stretching.


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 as well.

Watch for opportunities

Now that you know about these easy ways to “sneak in” some exercise, you will be able 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 activity.