Choosing to exercise when it’s the last thing I want to do

The week after Thanksgiving, my sister and I drove to Florida to visit family. Our parents live in a lovely retirement community about 15 minutes from the Atlantic, and our aunt and uncle live in Cape Canaveral. Some cousins came down, too, to enjoy a family-owned timeshare condo that week. The stage was set for a really fun week with family. The stage was also set for migraines, as so many triggers were present: unpredictable meal times, long travel days, potential dehydration from being in the sun and out of my routine, and stress (however happy) dealing with the logistics of planning get-togethers with a big family.

The first day we woke up at my parents’ house, I felt a little achy. I have at least one migraine episode every single time I visit them, so I figured that day would be the day. I lounged in my pajamas on the couch. We tend to be a family of late risers, so my dad and I ended up sitting and chatting over coffee well into mid-morning. I tried to ignore the sensations I experience during the migraine prodrome. I was a little bit achy and my neck had begun to hurt just the tiniest bit.

Once the plan was made to go out to eat and then do a little bit of shopping, I knew I had some time to play with since it takes a long time for Geddises to mobilize and actually leave the house. My first inclination was to read a little more of my book and then take a hot shower, but instead I went with the opposite plan: I laced my sneakers up, found my headphones, and went for a walk.

The neighborhood is just lovely, and the weather couldn’t have agreed more with me. It was partly cloudy and warm—wearing shorts and a T-shirt felt amazing after the chilly town I’d left for the week. Instead of listening to a podcast or an audiobook, I listened to some favorite songs while strolling, and that made me up the pace a little bit. I saw birds and flowers; I waved to my parents’ neighbors as they cruised by on golf carts.

As I approached my parents’ driveway after a thirty-five minute stroll, I got that walking high I hadn’t had in so long due to my lethargy and lack of exercise at home. (It’s nicknamed a “runner’s high,” but I’m here to tell you that a walk of 30-60 minutes will get you that same sensation.)

My point of view had altered completely and any sign of an impending migraine was totally gone. I jumped in the shower and surprised myself by saying aloud, “I feel amazing!”

I wish I could stay the feeling of goodwill and health stayed strong the whole week, but it didn’t. I did feel good most of the trip, though, which was a positive change. And I remembered what got me hooked on walking years ago. I’ve lost the habit but am hoping to get myself back in action. When I need to remind myself of how transformative some gentle exercise and alone time can be, I will just refer back to this blog and hope I’ll take a cue from my past self and go out and stroll.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Migraine.com team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

View Comments (4)

Poll