Anyone who gets frequent migraine symptoms knows the experience: the throbbing, the pain, the visual disturbances. Black patients are more likely to have more frequent headaches that may be undertreated or underdiagnosed, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information.
Exercise has long been a potential way to reduce migraine triggers, but a new study suggests it could be especially effective with triggers such as stress, depression and trouble sleeping.
“It’s a complex relationship, but we know that exercise, generally speaking, helps increase levels of good neurotransmitters, like dopamine, norepinephrine, serotonin, which contribute to not only fewer headaches, but also better mood and overall well-being,” study author Dr. Mason Dyess, a senior fellow at the University of Washington School of Medicine says.
Exercise also improves heart health and that helps with weight management, which is also associated with better migraine control, Dyess adds.
The study included more than 4,600 people diagnosed with migraines. About 75 percent had 15 or more migraines a month. The other 25 percent had 14 or fewer.
Study participants completed a questionnaire about their migraine characteristics, sleep, depression, stress and anxiety. They also answered questions about how much moderate to vigorous exercise they got each week — jogging, very brisk walking, playing a sport, heavy cleaning and bicycling, for example.
Researchers divided participants into five groups by frequency of exercise ranging from none to more than 150 minutes per week, the minimum recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO). About 27 percent got the recommended amount or more.
Participants who got less exercise than recommended had increased rates of