Headache & Fitness

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By Brent Lucas, BA, London, Ontario, Canada
 

Regular exercise can reduce your risk of headaches, and lack of regular physical exercise can leave you more susceptible to chronic headaches.

Not only is exercise good at giving the headache sufferer an overall sense of well-being, it helps to promote good health. Exercise- depending on the individual - ranges from walking, treadmill, stationary bikes to aerobics.  We now know that aerobic respiration increases our endorphins (our bodies' pain-preventing chemicals!) thereby reducing the sensation of headache pain felt!

Below are 4 major points for you to consider when making the critical decision to begin exercising. First, do it regularly, not severely. Prevention and moderation are always good pain preventing measures to follow.  Walking is an excellent aerobic exercise and can frequently be done with others to get the added benefit of social support. Second, use stretching exercises to maintain flexibility and reduce injury. Always follow
an instructor's advice on how to stretch. Thirdly, slow down or stop if you have increased pain from exercising. Always consult with an exercise professional. He or she can suggest exercises that will not bring on pain. Fourth, always start an exercise routine consulting with your doctor - then under supervision of a trained aerobic instructor.

The benefit of added social support is not only evident when your friend  goes to work out with you, or to walk together with you, it brings you that extra bit of motivation we sometimes need. 

An extra benefit of walking is that it is free.

Exercising can greatly reduce the frequency of headache attacks, and give you a greater sense of self. The benefit here is not just staying in shape, but feeling better all over. Take exercise seriously and your headache pain will surely diminish - but the first step comes from you - the sufferer.

 

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The opioids (narcotics) cause progression of the illness (Chronic Daily Headache), not termination, and will actually make the individual much worse over time. It is easier and quicker to give the patient a pain killer than to "get into the trench" and try solve the problem. Patients with chronic daily headache require time, diligence, and frequent access from their physician.

Interview: Dr. Joel Saper, MHNI
-from the book Chronic Daily Headache

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The book Chronic Daily Headache features
an article reviewed by a Headache Neurologist
entitled "Why Some Headache Patients do
not Improve"!