Healthy Living

What is an Exercise-Induced Migraine?

What is an Exercise-Induced Migraine?

What is an Exercise-Induced Migraine?

Exercises have been recommended by many doctors and lifestyle therapists as a healthy way of living. Unfortunately these exercises can have side effects such as migraines.

Compromising on fitness is not often a preferred option but oft one chosen due to health concerns.People have been known to reduce or eliminate playing their favored sport because of severe migraine attacks.

A migraine is a headache that can range from being slight to a severe one. Migraines affect many people all across the globe and they are mainly experienced by women. However, people of all ages can get the condition. Migraine cases also reduces from around 45years.

While the intensity and frequency may differ from person to person migraine is known to cause severe trauma to the victims. The exact cause of migraine has not yet been determined, however certain triggers have been identified as migraine aggravators. Though the triggers are different for each person, recognizing which one works against you enables avoiding migraine attacks. One of the key triggers identified is prolonged exertion. The severity of exercise-induced migraine is dependent on the events leading up to the ailment. The headache may occur during or after the activity. It is prudent not to ignore any discomfort felt. Especially since, in some cases, such a migraine can leave debilitating effects.

Causes of Exercise-Induced Migraines

Strenuous sporting activities

Exercise-induced migraines mainly result from engaging in intense sporting activities or exercises that involve vigorous body movements. Such activities may include:

  • Swimming
  • Weight lifting
  • Running
  • Dancing

Any sort of sudden movement can aggravate an attack. It could be as simple as a jerk of the head or bending. It is important that someone prone to migraine is careful when indulging in sports or working out.

Exercising in severe weather conditions

These exercises are more likely to bring about migraines when done under harsh conditions such as high temperatures and humid environments. Often one is unprepared for the weather thus ending up dehydrated or dizzy.


Sleep deprivation

Not having enough sleep is also another factor that easily triggers migraines.However, excess sleep is equally bad. It is important that a regular sleep schedule is maintained so that your body is rested.


When you exercise it is important that you hydrate and take in more water than you lose sweating. Dehydration is known to effect migraines adversely.


Symptoms of Exercise-Induced Migraines

Exercise-induced migraines are characterized by a variety of symptoms but the most common symptoms include:

  • Dizziness
  • Temporary loss of sight
  • Throbbing pains at specific parts of the head
  • Nausea
  • And in severe cases, vomiting.
  • Neck pain

Mild migraines often fade with time after a good rest. However, severe migraines are usually accompanied with persistent symptoms with headaches that can last for more than 48 hours. This therefore calls for the need to visit a doctor and get treated.


Treatments for Exercise-Induced migraines:

There is no given cure or a specific cure for migraines and so it is best to avoid migraines before they happen. However if they do occur the most common way of dealing with migraines includes the following:

  • Avoiding exercises that fatigue one’s body excessively leading to migraines. If an exercise proves to be strenuous, it is best if one shifts to a less difficult one. The main importance here is to do what is healthy and not what tires you out the most.Opt for low intensity physical activities like Yoga that also aid relaxation while toning your body.
  • Having a good night’s sleep is also another way of dealing with migraines. Poor sleeping patterns makes the body exhausted and this therefore makes it easier for one to get migraines if he/she engages in strenuous exercises. One should therefore ensure that he/she gets enough sleep.Maintain a regular sleep schedule so as to ensure you wake up refreshed. The routine should be maintained even on vacations and workdays.
  • Doing warm-ups before a vigorous exercise and cool-ups exercises also helps reduce chances of getting an exercise-induced migraine. Don’t rush in to the exercise; always ease in to the exercise
  • Always eat at least one and a half hour before exercising. This will ensure your blood sugar levels are in control thus avoiding a low sugar triggered migraine.
  • Ensuring one stays hydrated during an exercise is also important in preventing migraines. Dehydration can easily bring about dizziness and fatigue which are the basic factors for causing migraines. Always carry a water bottle with you when you exercise and sip regularly to avoid dizzy spells.
  • Weather conditions should also be considered always before one engages in intense exercises. Doing them under hot and humid weather conditions increases the chances of a migraine by more than twenty percent. If possible,change your exercise timings to suit the weather.
  • Should an exercise-induced migraine persist, taking medication such as aspirin tablets can help ease the pain.

In case your exercise-induced migraines persist, it may wise to switch to a less exertive sport or exercise regime. If the migraine symptoms become severe, it is advisable that one visits a doctor for tests and treatments. By analyzing one’s lifestyle, the doctor can be able to recommend ways in which a patient can deal with the exercise-induced migraines.Medication may be prescribed for severe cases.

The Bottom Line

Despite the small risk of getting a migraine, exercises accrue more benefits when done properly and correctly. It is advisable that one develops a routine of exercising frequently in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle. By ensuring that the above precautions are taken into account. Exercises should be easy to do but keeping in mind the risk of getting a migraine.

If at any stage of your exercise routine you feel uncomfortable, remember to stop and take a break. It is advisable that a diary is maintained to track your physical activity so that triggers can be identified and worked upon. It may be difficult keeping track of every moment but in hindsight it may be the best decision you made for your wellbeing.