Practicing physical activity with moderate intensity helps to prevent headaches, especially migraines. This is what a survey carried out based on data collected by the Longitudinal Study of Adult Health (ELSA-Brasil) proves. Since 2008, this study has followed more than 15,000 volunteers from six higher education and research institutions in six states, in the Northeast (UFBA), Southeast (Fiocruz, USP, Federal University of Minas Gerais and Federal University of Espírito Santo) and South regions. (Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul).
One of the main objectives of ELSA-Brasil is to investigate risk factors for chronic diseases, focusing on cardiovascular factors such as diabetes, dyslipidemia, hypertension, obesity, subclinical atherosclerosis, among others, associated with lifestyle habits, including physical activity and nutrition.
“One of our objectives was to evaluate the impact of physical activity on headache in general”, says Alessandra Goulart, general practitioner and epidemiologist at the University Hospital of the University of São Paulo, one of the main researchers at the ELSA Research Center (CI – SP). ) and one of the authors of the study.
For this, the researchers applied questionnaires from the World Health Organization to the participants in order to collect data on physical activity – both performed during leisure time and when commuting to work, in addition to the time spent sitting. “We observed that moderate physical activity is able to prevent headache attacks and also reduce their intensity when they arise”, says Alessandra. Sedentary people suffer more from tension-type pain and migraines, the results reveal.
“We know that physical activity is one of the pillars of the treatment of chronic diseases, including headaches”, says neurologist Lívia Dutra, from Hospital Israelita Albert Einstein. “It helps lessen the perception of pain,” she explains.
To have an effect, the activity needs to be practiced for at least 150 minutes a week with moderate intensity, or 75 minutes if it is more vigorous. That means walking at moderate speed, for example.
“We always recommend aerobic activity”, says Lívia. “Those who struggle with it can start with something milder, like yoga or pilates.” The important thing is not to stand still. But it doesn’t hurt to remember: once the crisis has started, it’s better to keep quiet. At that point, exercise will only make the pain worse.
“There was already evidence that exercises could prevent headaches, but now we have data to prescribe them within the treatment as part of a package of healthy habits”, concludes Alessandra.
Source: Einstein Agency