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Exercise Triggers Migraine in Women: Researchers State

Researchers find that although doctors recommend regular aerobic exercise to prevent migraine, physical exercise can actually trigger migraine attacks for most women due to “anxiety sensitivity” in them.

“Sensitivity to anxiety” refers to one’s fear of experiencing arousal of anxiety due to harmful physical, cognitive and socially-observable consequences that may be associated with avoidance of physical activity (PA) in migraine patients. Migraine affects around 10-15% of the world’s population, and among its most common diagnostic criteria are throbbing, unilateral headaches, hypersensitivity to lights, sounds, odor, and movement aggravation.

While routine aerobic exercise has been highly recommended by clinicians as an adjuvant alternative for migraine prevention, physical exercise can cause migraine attacks for up to one-third of patients, so it can instead be avoided as a migraine management strategy, said researchers.

Researcher’s Survey Shows Danger of Workout

Samantha G Farris from Rutgers, Department of Psychology, State University of New Jersey, led a new study. She published in the journal Cephalalgia. There she revealed a common association between migraine and exercise.

The researchers evaluated 100 women with probable migraine. This is who completed an online survey surrounding sensitivity scores of anxiety. Also, intentional avoidance of moderate and vigorous physical activity (PA) over the past month. As well as self-rated perception that exercising would trigger a migraine attack. It can also worsen migraine symptoms.

Results revealed increased sensitivity scores of anxiety associated with PA avoidance of moderate as well as vigorous intensities. One-point increase in the level of anxiety tolerance results in an increase in the likelihood. This is preventing PA by up to 5 percent. Migraine is a highly prevalent and debilitating neurological disorder, where routine PA is part of current guidelines for non-pharmacological treatment. The authors wrote that “patients with high sensitivity to migraine and anxiety can benefit from tailor-made multi-component treatment.”

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