Int J Sports Med 2011; 32(6): 455-460
DOI: 10.1055/s-0030-1269928
Clinical Sciences

© Georg Thieme Verlag KG Stuttgart · New York

Aerobic Exercise as a Therapy Option for Migraine: A Pilot Study

S. Darabaneanu1 , C. H. Overath1 , D. Rubin2 , S. Lüthje3 , W. Sye4 , U. Niederberger1 , W.-D. Gerber1 , B. Weisser4
  • 1Institute of Medical Psychology, University Clinic of Kiel, Germany
  • 2Institute of Internal Medicine, University Clinic of Kiel, Germany
  • 3Institute of Psychology, University of Kiel, Germany
  • 4Department of Exercise Medicine, University of Kiel, Germany
Further Information

Publication History

accepted after revision November 19, 2010

Publication Date:
06 April 2011 (online)


Exercise is assumed to have a positive effect on migraine. However, none of the few studies on this topic can prove the expected positive influence of exercise. Therefore, the aim of this pilot study was to develop a training program suitable for migraine patients and to examine its effect on migraine. 16 patients were examined. 8 migraine patients completed a 10-week aerobic running exercise program consisting of 3 workouts per week. The program was developed by sports scientists especially to increase the fitness level. Physical fitness, i. e., physical working capacity, was assessed using a PWC 150 test. There was also a control group of 8 patients without any special physical training. Migraine patients of the exercise group showed both a reduction in the number of migraine days per month (p=0.048) and the intensity of the attacks (p=0.028). An increase in fitness level resulted in a lowered stress level. Stress strategies like “displacement activity” (r=−0.715; p=0.046), “looking for self-affirmation” (r=−0.742; p=0.035) and “feelings of aggression” (r=−0.802; p=0.017) were reduced. Increasing the level of fitness (PWC 150) is one predictor for migraine improvement (r=0.409, p=0.031). Aerobic exercise which leads to a better fitness level is an alternative therapy method for migraine.


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Dr. Stephanie DarabaneanuPhD 

Institute of Medical Psychology

University Clinic of Kiel

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24159 Kiel


Phone: + 49/431/659 4652

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