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Exercise Program Appears Helpful in Migraine Patients

Subjects increased aerobic capacity over 12 weeks and had improved migraine status

THURSDAY, April 2 (HealthDay News) -- Though migraine patients frequently cite exercise as a migraine trigger, a cycling-based exercise program improved the exercise capacity of migraineurs without a reported increase in migraines, according to research published in the April issue of Headache: The Journal of Head and Face Pain.

Emma Varkey, of the Cephalea Headache Centre in Gothenburg, Sweden, and colleagues analyzed data from 26 adults with regular migraine who had not exercised more than once weekly in the three months before the study. Subjects participated in three 40-minute indoor cycling sessions weekly for 12 weeks.

Patients' VO2 max -- a measurement of aerobic capacity -- improved significantly compared to baseline (32.9 versus 36.2 mL/kg/minute), the researchers report. During the last month of the intervention, subjects showed a significant decrease in number of migraine attacks, mean headache intensity and use of headache medication. One patient had a migraine attack immediately after a session, the authors note.

"To our knowledge, this is the first detailed description and evaluation of a method for exercise to improve oxygen uptake in patients with migraine," Varkey and colleagues write. "We have demonstrated how a group of untrained patients with severe migraine increased their exercise capacity without inducing a concomitant deterioration of their migraines."

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