Exercise as migraine prophylaxis: a randomized study using relaxation and topiramate as controls

Cephalalgia. 2011 Oct;31(14):1428-38. doi: 10.1177/0333102411419681. Epub 2011 Sep 2.


Aim: Scientific evidence regarding exercise in migraine prophylaxis is required. Therefore this study aimed to evaluate the effects of exercise in migraine prevention.

Methods: In a randomized, controlled trial of adults with migraine, exercising for 40 minutes three times a week was compared to relaxation according to a recorded programme or daily topiramate use, which was slowly increased to the individual's highest tolerable dose (maximum 200 mg/day). The treatment period lasted for 3 months, and migraine status, quality of life, level of physical activity, and oxygen uptake were evaluated. The primary efficacy variable was the mean reduction of the frequency of migraine attacks during the final month of treatment compared with the baseline.

Results: Ninety-one patients were randomized and included in the intention-to-treat analysis. The primary efficacy variable showed a mean reduction of 0.93 (95% confidence interval (CI) 0.31-1.54) attacks in the exercise group, 0.83 (95% CI 0.22-1.45) attacks in the relaxation group, and 0.97 (95% CI 0.36-1.58) attacks in the topiramate group. No significant difference was observed between the groups (p = 0.95).

Conclusion: Exercise may be an option for the prophylactic treatment of migraine in patients who do not benefit from or do not want to take daily medication.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anticonvulsants / administration & dosage
  • Anticonvulsants / adverse effects
  • Exercise Therapy / methods*
  • Female
  • Fructose / administration & dosage
  • Fructose / adverse effects
  • Fructose / analogs & derivatives*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Migraine Disorders / drug therapy
  • Migraine Disorders / prevention & control*
  • Motor Activity / physiology
  • Oxygen / metabolism
  • Prospective Studies
  • Quality of Life
  • Relaxation Therapy / methods*
  • Topiramate
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Anticonvulsants
  • Topiramate
  • Fructose
  • Oxygen