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June 2020
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Pedaling Away to Migraine Relief

Indoor Cycling May Decrease Migraine Pain, Episodes

Indoor cycling has shown to be an effective migraine treatment, study concludes.

Indoor cycling has shown to be an effective migraine treatment, study concludes.

Describing what a migraine feels like is sort of like describing what salt tastes like; it’s next to impossible without having experienced it first.  I’ve never had a migraine, and as difficult as it is for me to fully appreciate just how painful it is, I’ve watched people writhe in agony while in the throes of a migraine episode.  Believe you me, it wasn’t pretty.

For an estimated 30 million Americans, these ugly episodes are commonplace and almost anything triggers them.  From traffic lights to strobe lights, chocolate to cheese, television screens to movie screens, there’s no one cause; it’s different for just about everyone.

Whatever triggers them, the results are the same:  blood flow in the brain is reduced, leading to less oxygen flow, leading to restricted arteries.  It’s a big domino effect that severely impacts quality of life.

Most researchers believe that the trick to reversing a migraine is to increase blood flow to the brain.  Exercise sounds like it would do the trick, but oddly enough, past research has found that even a blood flow stimulator like exercise triggers migraines.

But according to research conducted earlier this year, there may be one exercise that reduces their frequency:  indoor cycling.

According to research published in the appropriately titled The Journal of Head and Face Pain, researchers say indoor cyclers, all of whom suffered from frequent migraines, reported having fewer migraines once they started an indoor cycling exercise program.

Here’s how the study broke down.  It involved 26 people, all of whom suffered from frequent migraines.  Over a 12-week period, they all participated in a controlled indoor cycling exercise program, cycling three times a week.  An oxygen-intake assessment was made at the start and at the end of the study.

After three months, amazingly, 24 of the 26 participants reported having fewer migraine episodes.  Not only that, but they didn’t have to take as much medication to treat them when they arose.  And when they did arise, they were less intense!

The researchers believe the benefit to cycling, besides the cardiovascular benefit, lies in indoor cycling’s apparent ability to increase oxygen intake.  At the start of the study, average oxygen intake was 32.9mL/kg/minute.  By the end, it increased to an average of 36.2mL/kg/minute.

The study was published in The Journal of Head and Face Pain and led by Dr. Emma Varkey of the Cephalea Headache Center in Sweden.

Indoor cycling is a great way to exercise.  It’s non-weight bearing, so people with bad knees or weak joints can get their hearts revved up without aggravating sore joints.  And as this study suggests, it could be just the trick to treating migraines.  Give it a try, and let me know if it works for you.


Related Posts

  1. Exercise Away the Pain

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