Aerobic exercise as a therapy option for migraine: a pilot study

Int J Sports Med. 2011 Jun;32(6):455-60. doi: 10.1055/s-0030-1269928. Epub 2011 Apr 6.


Exercise is assumed to have a positive effect on migraine. However, none of the few studies on this topic can prove the expected positive influence of exercise. Therefore, the aim of this pilot study was to develop a training program suitable for migraine patients and to examine its effect on migraine. 16 patients were examined. 8 migraine patients completed a 10-week aerobic running exercise program consisting of 3 workouts per week. The program was developed by sports scientists especially to increase the fitness level. Physical fitness, i. e., physical working capacity, was assessed using a PWC 150 test. There was also a control group of 8 patients without any special physical training. Migraine patients of the exercise group showed both a reduction in the number of migraine days per month (p=0.048) and the intensity of the attacks (p=0.028). An increase in fitness level resulted in a lowered stress level. Stress strategies like "displacement activity" (r=-0.715; p=0.046), "looking for self-affirmation" (r=-0.742; p=0.035) and "feelings of aggression" (r=-0.802; p=0.017) were reduced. Increasing the level of fitness (PWC 150) is one predictor for migraine improvement (r=0.409, p=0.031). Aerobic exercise which leads to a better fitness level is an alternative therapy method for migraine.

Publication types

  • Controlled Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Exercise Therapy / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Migraine Disorders / physiopathology
  • Migraine Disorders / therapy*
  • Physical Fitness*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Prospective Studies
  • Stress, Psychological / etiology
  • Young Adult