Exercise Shows Potential for Migraine Prophylaxis

Reduction in migraine frequency similar for exercise, relaxation, and topiramate treatment

MONDAY, Oct. 17 (HealthDay News) -- Exercising for 40 minutes three times a week shows similar efficacy for preventing migraines as topiramate, or relaxation, according to a study published in the October issue of Cephalalgia.

Emma Varkey, Ph.D., from the University of Gothenburg in Sweden, and colleagues compared the efficacy of exercise relative to relaxation according to a recorded program and topiramate in migraine prevention. A total of 91 patients were randomized to receive 40 minutes of exercise three times a week under the supervision of a physical therapist, relaxation exercises, or topiramate for three months. Participants were evaluated before, during, and after their treatment for migraine status, quality of life, aerobic capacity, and level of physical activity. Primary efficacy was measured as the mean decrease of the frequency of migraine attacks during the final month of therapy, compared to baseline.

The investigators found that all three groups showed a mean reduction in the primary efficacy (exercise group, 0.93; 95 percent confidence interval [CI], 0.31 to 1.54; relaxation group, 0.83; 95 percent CI, 0.22 to 1.45; topiramate group, 0.97; 95 percent CI, 1.36 to 1.58). The preventive effect on migraine did not differ significantly between the three groups.

"In conclusion, exercise was found to be equal to the well-documented methods of relaxation and topiramate with regard to the reduction of migraine frequency," the authors write. "This non-pharmacological approach may therefore be an option for the prophylactic treatment of migraine in patients who do not benefit from or do not want daily medication."

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