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Best Exercise for Migraine Prevention: Yoga, HIIT, Aerobics, Stretching

Exercise for migraine prevention

Here are a few exercises for migraine prevention. There is no one best exercise for migraine prevention. Some people get the most benefit from doing Yoga while others may find HIIT (high-intensity interval training) the most helpful.

Exercises should be performed in addition to a healthy anti-inflammatory diet and medications (if needed).

It is not advisable to rely only on exercises for migraine prevention especially when you have frequent and severe headaches.

What are the types of Migraine Headaches:

Headache is a complex subject. For understanding purposes, when a patient asks me why they have a headache. This is what I tell them:

Headaches are primarily of two types:

  • Primary headaches, and 
  • Secondary headaches

Secondary headaches are due to known causes such as sinusitis, brain infection, tumors of the brain, etc.

Primary headaches are then further classified as either:

  • Tension headache,
  • Cluster headache, and
  • Migraine headache

headache classification

Classic migraine is with aura, also called migraine with aura, while common migraine is without aura.

Other types of migraines can affect a person during specific times such as menstrual migraines or those which manifest with unique symptoms like retinal or ocular migraines and vestibular migraines.

A very rare variant of migraine is hemiplegic migraine in which people have weakness of one part of the body or limb. This is similar to a stroke but is not actually a stroke.

Exercise for migraine prevention
Migraine headache



Why do some people develop migraine headaches?

I have migraine headaches. My daughter has it too. I am a sinful person and might have done something wrong, might not be getting enough sleep, may not be eating the right food.

But my daughter is too young to have eaten something wrong or have done something wrong to get migraine.

I think migraine has a genetic component. If your father or mother has it, you may have it too. Food, lack of exercise, dehydration, stress, and prolonged screen time are only triggers.

Avoiding triggers is very important. Some exercises if performed regularly may help some people with migraine headaches.

The four best exercises for migraine prevention or what most people believe help their migraines are elaborated here:

Best Exercises for Migraine Prevention:

Exercise is important for all individuals to maintain their optimal health, but for individuals who suffer from migraines, it can be a great way of preventing them and stopping them from occurring in the first place.

Exercise has also been shown to decrease the duration and intensity of a migraine attack. 

Before exercising precautions should be taken to prevent the onset of a migraine headache.

Make sure to be well hydrated before and during exercises and also have a healthy snack 30-40 minutes before exercising to maintain your glucose level ensuring they are within a healthy range.

Before starting it is essential to properly do a warm-up and after the exercise session, it is important to cool down.

Exercises for migraine can be aerobic based, yoga, stretching, high-intensity interval training more commonly known as HITT and even breathing techniques can help with treating migraines.

  • Aerobics Exercise for Migraine Prevention:

Simple aerobic exercises such as walking, jogging, brisk walking, jumping jacks, swimming, or running are great ways to get your body moving. They are easy ways to incorporate exercise into daily life.

aerobic exercise for migraine prevention
Running is the best form of aerobic exercise for migraine prevention

In a systemic review of 21 research articles, the author concluded that strength training programs and high-intensity aerobic exercises are highly effective for treating migraine headaches [Ref]

  • Yoga for Migraine Prevention:

Yoga can be the key to relief from migraines. Yoga is the mindful movement and breathing of the body which helps relax, decrease stress, and improve focus and overall well-being of an individual.

Yoga has been shown to have beneficial results in individuals with migraines, showing a decrease in the frequency of migraine episodes.

yoga exercise for migraine prevention
Yoga exercise for migraine prevention and treatment

Yoga has been studied for migraine prevention and treatment. When combined with pills, it can reduce the severity of headaches, and frequency of migraine episodes, and may reduce the requirement to use reliever medications [Ref].

  • HIIT Exercises for Migraine Prevention:

High-intensity interval training is a training program that alternates between two phases: one phase of short exercises and the other of either rest or low-intensity exercises.

It is necessary not to suddenly start this training program rather slowly build up the stamina and tolerance to it.

hiit push ups burn 500 calories instantly hiit exercise for migraine prevention
HIIT exercise for migraine prevention

HIT exercises have been found to improve arterial stiffness in patients with migraine (compared to moderate continuous exercise training).

  • Stretching Exercises for Migraine Prevention:

Stretching is a great way to reduce tension stored in the muscles, which can lead to triggering a migraine.

Exercises such as simple neck stretches can help alleviate built-up muscle tension, mainly of the neck and upper back.

These stretches can be quite easy to perform, begin in a seated position preferably on a chair. With one hand hold onto the seat.

For instance, seated comfortably in a chair take your left hand and hold the seat, while moving your ear towards your shoulder on the right side.

stretching exercise for migraine prevention and treatment
Stretching exercise for migraine prevention and treatment

An alternate way of performing this stretch can be by moving your right hand holding your head and slowly moving it downwards towards your shoulder till you feel a stretch.

Hold this position for 5-10 seconds before slowly going back to the neutral position of having your head upright. Similarly, perform this exercise on the other side as well.

Lastly, some people may not feel like exercising when they develop a headache. It is natural. A combination of medications, exercise, or in sleep-deprived individuals, sleeping in a calm and quiet room can help.

On the other hand, some people may have exercise-induced migraine. These individuals need to switch their timings, intensity of exercise, and the type of exercise they do.


What do you think?

Written by Dr. Ahmed

I am Dr. Ahmed (MBBS; FCPS Medicine), an Internist and a practicing physician. I am in the medical field for over fifteen years working in one of the busiest hospitals and writing medical posts for over 5 years.

I love my family, my profession, my blog, nature, hiking, and simple life. Read more about me, my family, and my qualifications

Here is a link to My Facebook Page. You can also contact me by email at or at My Twitter Account
You can also contact me via WhatsApp 🙏

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