Headache, Diet, and Exercise

Two new studies have been published that examine the role of diet or exercise in headaches.

The first1 was a survey given to 112 migraine sufferers. The researchers found that 70% of migraine patients felt that diet played a role in their headaches, and the most common triggers of a headache attack were, 1) chocolate, 2) skipping a meal, and 3) alcohol.

The second study2 examined the role of aerobic exercise in tension-type headaches in seven women. The women maintained a daily headache and medication diary for two weeks pre- and post-intervention, as well as during a six-week aerobic exercise regimen. This class consisted of "10 to 15 minutes stationary and moving warm-up and stretches; 20 to 30 minutes of low-impact cardiovascular training, and 10 to 15 minutes of cool-down and stretching exercises." The women attended the class three times a week.

Headache levels did not change for the women. However, there were significant reductions in medication usage, depression, and anxiety. "...clients may turn to exercise in lieu of analgesic medications to manage their headache pain. With respect to decreased anxiety and depression levels, it is possible that engaging in aerobic exercise may improve mood which may alleviate some of the distress caused by chronic headache, and thus improve the quality of these patients' lives."

  1. Ciervo CA, Gallagher RM, Mueller L, Perrino D. The role of diet in treated migraine patients. Headache Quarterly, Current Treatment and Reseach 1996;7(4):319-323.
  2. Peters ML, Turner SM, Blanchard EB. The effects of aerobic exercise on chronic tension-type headache. Headache Quarterly, Current Treatment and Reseach 1996;7(4):330-334.