March 18, 2019
Aerobic exercise appears to reduce the number of days patients experience migraine, according to a systematic literature review and meta-analysis published in The Journal of Headache Pain.
The review included six studies published over the last 15 years involving a total 357 patients with migraine. Aerobic exercise interventions included walking, jogging, and cycling at least 3 times per week.
“Moderate quality evidence indicates that in patients with migraine, aerobic exercise therapy decreases the number of migraine days,” researchers reported. “Low quality evidence indicates that aerobic exercise can decrease pain intensity or duration of migraine attacks.”
Specifically, researchers found an average of 0.6 fewer migraine days per month after aerobic exercise intervention. Although other outcome measurements were too variable to pool, unpooled data showed 20% to 27% reductions in migraine duration and 20% to 54% drops in pain intensity after aerobic exercise intervention.
“Major gaps exist in the current knowledge on the effect of aerobic exercise on patients with migraine,” researchers wrote. “Further research to study the effects reported in this systematic review are mandatory to unravel the mechanisms of physical training on migraine.”
Lemmens J, De Pauw J, Van Soom T, et al. The effect of aerobic exercise on the number of migraine days, duration and pain intensity in migraine: a systematic literature review and meta-analysis. The Journal of Headache Pain. 2019;20(1):16.