A study conducted at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden studied migraine patients and determined that exercise can prevent migraines, in some cases as well as drugs or relaxation techniques.

Lead study author Emma Varkey and colleagues evaluated 91 migraine sufferers over the course of three months, splitting  the participants into thirds: the first group was  asked to exercise for 40 minutes three times each week. The second group performed relaxation techniques and the final third were prescribed topiramate. The study, which is published in the current issue of Cephalalgia, found that patients in all three groups had reduced migraines, and that exercise was just as effective in preventing migraines as the medication and the relaxation techniques. The researchers followed up with the patients at three and six months after the treatment ended.

Dr. Robert Duarte, director of the Pain Center at The North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System in Manhasset, New York agrees: “Exercise is another form of relaxation and is well known to cause a release in endorphins, the body’s own pain-reducing substances. Migraine patients should be strongly advised to introduce an exercise program as part of their migraine prevention program.”

All patients should be encouraged to see a primary medical doctor before starting an exercise program.

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