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Exercise & Migraine

  • By lwats80

    Hi everyone. I thought I would share my recent experience as it might help others.

    I have suffered from migraines since I was in my early twenties. I would have at least one attack a week, usually at the weekend but occasionally I would also get one midweek. I narrowed down my triggers to wine and dehydration but found that even if I avoided these things I would still get attacks. I also suffered with depression and ended up having a breakdown a couple of years ago.

    After my breakdown I decided to make a radical change to my lifestyle. I decided that I needed to get fit. I don’t just mean exercise more but to get really fit, athlete style fit. Looking back now I think that it was a symptom of my breakdown as I did become quite obsessed with exercise. I decided to train for a triathlon. I was starting from scratch as I had never really been big on exercise up to that point as was already a little over weight.

    I spent the next year of my life training and training hard. I built myself up from jogging a couple of days a week to a full training diary that involved running, swimming and cycling almost every day.

    Not long after I had started my training, although I didn’t really notice at first but my husband mentioned it in passing that I hadn’t had a headache for a while and then I realised I hadn’t had an attack for about 2 weeks. This for me at the time was unprecedented! I carried on with the training and found that my migraines stopped. Stopped completely!! I went on to do my triathlon which is one of the best achievements of my life. This is from the girl who usually felt depressed and spent most of her time lying down in a darkened room in pain.

    During this time, because I was feeling so well, my husband and I decided we wanted to try for a baby (our first), however, we found out a while later that we had fertility problems and that we were going to have to have IVF. After I had done my triathlon we started treatment. I had two cycles in total and am pleased to say the second one worked and I am now 15 weeks pregnant. As wonderful as this news is there is a bad side. The IVF treatment was very hard going on my body and I found my training started to fall by the wayside. I felt tired and down all the time. This didn’t improve once I fell pregnant as the first few weeks were tough with the sickness and exhaustion you normally get with early pregnancy.

    Well needless to say my migraines have now started to creep back into my life. I have had 2 big attacks since falling pregnant and have had a constant milder headache now for the past 2 weeks. I am now going to have to try and get in some regular exercise no matter how sick or tired I feel as I can feel myself slipping back into those dark days.

    Sorry about the long post but I think the moral of my story is that exercise has been key in the management of my migraines and I would implore others to give it a go. It is literally the only thing that prevents my attacks.

    I hope this post helps others to try and get a handle on their attacks to.

    Love to all

    Laura

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  • By Kerrie Smyres Moderator

    Thanks for sharing your story, Laura — and congratulations on your pregnancy! I’m sorry it has worsened the migraines. It may help to know that 60% to 70% of women notice a reduction in their migraines during the second and third trimester (https://migraine.com/blog/what-to-expect-with-pregnancy-and-delivery/). I’m sending good vibes your way that you’re one of them.

    Exercise is a huge benefit to many people with migraine and it’s great that it has helped you. It can be tough to get started, though, since exercise can also be a migraine trigger. Many people can’t train very hard, but have to slowly increase the amount of exercise to avoid knocking themselves out with frequent attacks. It all depends on the person, though.

    Even if you can’t return to your typical level of exercise, even 20 minutes a day of moderate aerobic exercise can be a big help.

    Best wishes for your pregnancy and the little one you’re about to welcome into your life. What an exciting time.

    Take care,
    Kerrie

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