Exercise When You Have a Headache

Headaches can often put the brakes on our exercise plans. I am talking about when you get a headache before you exercise, not one that is caused by exercise.

health.com reports that there are 5 different kinds of headache:

  1. A tension headache, one that is all over the head but around the temples in particular.
  2. Cluster headaches, that are characterised by short and sharp pain about one side of the head, and can cause watery eyes.
  3. A sinus headache, which we have all experienced.
  4. Rebound headaches, which occur after taking medication for the first headache.
  5. and Migraines, which are debilitating.

Triggers include:

  1. Being overweight
  2. A rigid personality
  3. Overexertion
  4. Chemical odours such as paint
  5. Dehydration
  6. Hunger
  7. Too much caffeine (or not enough!)
  8. Sleep deprivation

The treatments listed on the same website all point towards medications (ironic when there is such a thing as a “rebound” headache!).


What can we do if we don’t want to medicate our headache, but still want to exercise? Well, it depends on what kind of headache. If you have a migraine, you will most likely give up and go home. However, migraine.com reports that moderate exercise can manage your migraine naturally. If you have a sinus headache, you may find light exercise helps, providing you keep your head up and exertion down. If your headache was brought on by exercise, you may need to back off and deep breathe for a bit. And as for a tension headache, perhaps a form of exercise you enjoy could help relieve that tension!

If we look at the above triggers, weight loss will help some people, meditation others, moderation and chemical avoidance for others. Drinking enough water, eating at regular intervals, getting the right amount of coffee and sleep will help your chances of avoiding headaches too.

Everydayhealth.com even has a list of headache relieving home remedies! They include inhaling lavender, peppermint, and basil oil, including flaxseeds and buckwheat in your diet, and avoiding dairy; chocolate; peanut butter; certain fruits, such as avocado, banana, and citrus; onions; meats with nitrates, such as bacon and hot dogs; foods containing monosodium glutamate (MSG); foods containing tyramine, an amino acid found in red wine; and foods that are fermented or pickled.

So don’t give up next time you have a headache, and if they’re regular try some home remedies before reaching for the panadol!

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