The effects of aerobic exercise on migraine

Headache. 1992 Jan;32(1):50-4. doi: 10.1111/j.1526-4610.1992.hed3201050.x.


A six-week cardiovascular exercise program was provided to 11 subjects classified as experiencing classical migraines, while 9 similarly-classified subjects served as waiting-list controls. Measures included the Canadian Aerobic Fitness test, a headache diary to record the Frequency, Intensity, and Duration of migraine episodes and the Pain-Severity, Affective-Distress, and Support scales of the West Haven-Yale Multidimensional Pain Inventory (MPI). Measures were taken on both treatment and control subjects before, mid-way through, and upon termination of the first aerobic program, as well as after a two week follow-up. The aerobic classes were effective in significantly improving cardiovascular fitness. Pain Severity decreased significantly for those receiving aerobic training, who also showed (nonsignificant) trends, over the measurement periods, toward reductions in Affective Distress as well as the Frequency, Intensity and Duration of migraines, but these trends failed to reach statistical significance. Control subjects demonstrated no systematic changes in any of the dependent measures. These results suggest possible long-term benefits of aerobic fitness in the management of classical migraines.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Cardiovascular System / physiopathology
  • Exercise*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Migraine Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Physical Fitness