How Exercises Help Migraineurs At Multiple Levels

Any exercise induces the body’s pituitary gland to release endorphins. There are 4 different types of endorphins – alpha, beta, gamma and sigma. It is found that during prolonged exercise sessions, acidosis of the blood occurs, which is indicated by decrease in the blood flow and oxygen to the muscle tissues. This triggers the release of beta-endorphins, as a response to tackle the anticipated pain or stress. These beta-endorphins have analgesic properties and raise the bar for the body in tackling migraine pains.


Similarly, another polypeptide, the enkephalin, is released by the thalamus of the brain during periods of exercise. They have the specific capacity to block the neurotransmitter, Substance P, which is notorious in triggering migraines. Catecholamines are another substance, which is released in short periods of exerting exercises. They raise the density and secretion of serotonin mildly and help counter migraine pains to some extent.

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Excellent Exercises For Migraineurs


For over a month now, I have been covering technical areas of migraine condition to increase our understanding of the internal dynamics of this neurological disease.   Today’s post will encompass what we can do in terms of physical activities and exercises to keep the migraine beast best tamed- i.e. we will look at the external dynamics which is within our control. Remember, our aim should be to:

a. Increase levels of Serotonin

b. Increase levels of the pain-fighting Endorphin

c. Increase levels of Dopamine

 All repetitive movements raise serotonin levels. This includes chewing, massages and the like, though the elevation in serotonin levels through such activities is marginal and ephemeral.

Significant increase in serotonin combined with endorphin and dopamine levels occur at the time of any activity that involves continuous or continual exertion for a certain period of time – a minimum of 20 minutes. If you can incorporate repetitive movements to such an exercise sessions, it would augment the effect of serotonin and endorphin. Let’s look at the activities that can give such benefits:

1. Brisk Walking

2. Jogging

3. Running

4. Weight training

5. Cycling – outdoors and stationary

6. Swimming

7. Dancing

8. Stretching

9. Yoga

10. Pilates

11. Aerobics – Step, Circuit training etc

12. Kickboxing

13. Any Sport

14. Gym activities – treadmills, elliptical, rowing machines, push-ups etc

15. Any other activity that causes you to exert for 20 minutes at one go (with possible rest periods built in)

If you have never done exertive physical activities before or have led a sedate life, it is advisable to keep your exercise routine to 30 minutes every other day. If you do not have the luxury of working out 30-minutes in a single go, break it up. You can fit in lots of 10 minutes thrice in a day. It all adds up.

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Endorphines and Migraineurs

Lack of enough exercises leads us to a condition of low dopamine and low endorphin release. When these are on a low, there isn’t enough to act in nexus with serotonin, triggering migraines. So migraineurs, catch up on your exercises.

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