Tag Archives: migraines

Exercise Also Prevents Migraines As Well As Drugs

Besides all the other benefits that exercise provides, a new Swedish study figured out that treating migraines with exercise is as good as anything. They split 91 women that had been diagnosed with them into three groups: one that got topiramate (the best migraine drug known), one that did relaxation therapy, and a final one that exercised. At the end of the study, all three groups had less migraines, by the same amount. In other words, all three methods were equally effective at reducing the number of attacks.

Photo by Arty Smokes


Some interesting things worth mentioning:

  • The drug did help more than relaxation and exercise with the pain — the number of attacks decreased the same amount with all three therapies, but the pain decreased more with topiramate
  • Because nothing in life is free, the drug group also experienced side effects: 33% of the women on topiramate had side effects, and 12% withdrew from the study. None of the ones in the other groups had side effects, which for topiramate includes vertigo, depression and constipation.
  • The study doesn’t seem to have included a control or placebo group. Maybe it’s just such standard practice that the university left it out of their press release, but they only mentioned the three groups with therapies, and no group that didn’t get anything. Since all three groups got fewer migraines by the same amount, it would be nice to know that it wasn’t something in the air at the university that caused their results.
  • Migraines are three times more likely in women, which is probably why all the study subjects were women. And migraine patients in general are less physically active than average.
  • There was another study in 2009 that showed that indoor cycling helped with migraines — both in number of attacks and intensity.

And finally, it’s also worth pointing out that relaxation therapy gives the same results as exercise and drugs, but on top of migraines exercise also helps prevent heart disease, diabetes, cancer, Alzheimer’s, joint pain and a ton of other things — so it’s definitely the way to go.

From University of Gothenburg, via The Huffington Post and Reuters