Two different types of exercise prevent migraines

A new study by Swiss researchers compared the effect of high intensity interval training (HIT) with moderate intensity continuous training (MCT) and with no exercise at all on the number of migraine headache days.

The results were presented at the International Headache Congress held in Vancouver last month. Not surprisingly, both types of exercise reduced the number of migraine headache days, but HIT was more effective. In the study, patients in HIT group did 4 periods of intensive exercise (90% of maximum intensity) each lasting 4 minutes, separated by periods of 3 minutes at 70% of maximum. The moderate intensity exercise was done at 70% for 45 minutes. Both groups performed these exercise twice a week.

A previous study has established that exercising for 40 minutes 3 times a week is as effective as relaxation training or taking a preventive migraine drug topiramate. Topiramate however has many potential side effects, including some serious ones. A Swedish study of 46,648 people established a strong inverse correlation between physical activity and the frequency of headaches.

HIT has been gaining in popularity since the 1980’s because it provides all of the benefits of exercise in a shorter period of time.

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