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How Exercising More Can Help Reduce Migraines

Sep 29, 2010

If you suffer from migraines, you might think that exercising more will make your migraines worse. In reality, exercising more can reduce the frequency and duration of your migraines. While doctors are uncertain about the exact mechanisms underlying the triggers of migraines, some general principles are known. It seems that exercise reduces migraines directly by increasing the availability of certain brain chemicals, like serotonin. Studies have also shown that exercising more can help reduce migraines indirectly by promoting a better sleep schedule.

Relieves Stress

One way that exercise is thought to reduce migraines is by reducing stress. If your migraines are triggered by stress, exercising more can be an effective solution to your migraines. When you are stressed, the brain chemical norepinephine is released into your bloodstream. Norepinephrine can cause migraines if there is too much of it in your system. Exercise releases another brain chemical, serotonin, which balances the effects of norepinephrine, reducing your stress levels.

Relieves Muscle Tension

If you have tense muscles in your shoulders and neck, this muscle tightness can trigger migraines is susceptible individuals. When you exercise, you loosen up your muscles (depending on what kind of exercise you are engaging in), which prevents migraines that are triggered from tight or pinched muscles. Having tight muscles in your neck and or shoulders can press on nerves, which send pain signals all the way up to your head. Yoga is one of the best exercises that you can do to reduce migraines triggered by muscle tension.

Promotes Better Sleep Habits

One important tenet of reducing migraines is getting enough sleep. In order to prevent migraines, you should be getting approximately seven to nice hours of sleep every night. When you are tired, you are more susceptible to migraines. When you are tired, serotonin is reduced in your body and your blood vessels dilate which can trigger a migraine. Being tired also makes you less able to respond to stress and environmental migraine triggers. Exercising more promotes healthy sleep habits, which is another way that exercise can help reduce migraines.                                                             
It should be noted that all exercise might not be helpful in reducing migraines. High impact exercises or exercises which require a lot of bouncing could potentially make migraines worse. Additionally, you should always make sure to warm up prior to engaging in exercise. When you exercise, Nitric oxide is released into the blood stream, which causes your blood vessels to dilate. If you suffer from migraines, a sudden release of Nitric oxide could cause you to have a migraine. In order to prevent this from happening, you should warm up slowly with some light cardio and stretching.

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