Excercise - good or bad?

Dr. Buchholtz in his book and in person, really emphasizes the importance of exercise to an aerobic level. I try to walk on either a treadmill or outside for about 30 minutes 5 days a week. Fortunately, I feel better walking outside than inside and on a treadmill rather than walking freely. I think there are just less stimuli for me outside. I am, though, unable to really get up to an aerobic level. My symptoms keep on getting worse and worse. I am wondering if exercise is actually harming me. Maybe we should just rest with this? I don’t know. Any thoughts on this? I know that when I’m walking outside it is at least helpful psychologically, but then I feel even worse the rest of the day.

You may not be where you can do that much yet start off slow. We go and walk at the mall daily my husband walks about six miles no way I can do that one to two laps is it for me when I can do that.

I think you have to build up your tolerance for exercise and when you are not at the point where the condition is manageable that may make you feel worse. It was months before I could do anything like that …that was after I was very strict with the diet for about three months, sleep patterns about three months , etc. I had to get the anxiety under some control first and then start with the exercise, I know we are all different but that is how I had to handle it.

Exercise has been spotty for me with respect to whether I can do it. If I am having a bad day(s), I can only do around the block once. If I am having a better day I can toss some weights around and do a longer walk. I too find it better to do exercise outside. I think you need to listen to your body but at the same time try to push to do a little something as often as you can.

Ben - do your docs emphasize exercise as much as Dr. Buchholtz. good advice to listen to your body.

MAVlisa, when youre exercising on a threadmill, how does it feel when you get off it?

MAVLisa, they really don’t emphasize either exercise or the diet that the book talks about. They think the diet can make you crazy trying to follow it. They do agree that if you know your triggers, you should avoid them but that’s about as far as they take the diet. On exercise, they say that cardio is good if you can do, as is just getting out and about, just moving around. For me any type of movement is difficult on my bad days so it is tough. I just try to do as much as I can without overdoing it, which usually is not too much! I used to run and lift weights, nothing major but just to keep in shape…I haven’t run in 9 months and I can count on one hand how many times I have tossed weights around in the last 9 months - very frustrating on top of everything else! Ben

Ben - thanks for responding. It’s so confusing how some docs recommend diet and others don’t. I’ve been doing it strictly for months and months with NO success. I cook a lot,and yesterday I finally said - I can’t take it anymore. I am making meatballs and putting in some grated cheese :slight_smile: I think I’m going to begin cheating a bit. no MSG, chocolate, or caffeine, but I am not going to be as rigid. one day we’ll be exercising again! thanks again. and it does make sense in terms of exercise to do what we can. I feel better outside, so when I am up to it, it is nice to have some fresh air.


I find the only way I can do exercise if I’m not well-controlled by drugs is to start slowly and build things up incrementally. If I do too much too fast, it causes two days of misery afterwards. It can produce heavy vertigo for a solid day and then the usual neck pain and other garbage arrives after that. On the other hand, by staying fit and holding to a pattern (I try to do three to four 8 km power walks every week) I find that it increases my threshold level for mig attacks and I just feel better overall even if I’m going through the wringer on a new med.

Scott 8)

I always get headaches if I overdo it, starting with neckpain. So go gentle and see where your limit is.
In case you missed it the first time, how do you feel when you get off the threadmill Lisa? I havent tried it yet myself you see.

I feel pretty lousy when first getting off the treadmill. But, strangely, I feel much less dizzy walking on a treadmill than just walking regularly. thanks for the feedback.

I’ve had differing experience with exercise.

I know that for my classic migraines, exertion (eg lifting weights) can bring it on. I’ve also found this with MAV - at least this current episode. On Sunday I was feeling pretty good, so went to the gym, only to be rewarded with a crushing headache and major phonophobia all afternoon and the next day. But, I’ve been really really sick with this episode and was pretty much house bound for a month so maybe I went back in to exercise too quickly and too hard.

However, last year during a 3 month MAV episode (when I was unmedicated) I used to get really really agitated and the only way I could settle was to go for a walk or to the gym, and it didn’t make my symptoms any worse. So I hadn’t really had a break from exercise, unlike this year.

I guess the key is to build up slowly and see how you go.


MikaelHS - When I get off the treadmill it takes awhile for the motion to stop. I feel as though I am still on the treadmill, in a way. Sort of feels like being on one of those flat escalator like things you might find at the airport (you step on the unit and it moves you through the airport) . Luckily it doesn’t last too long. I’d say within 20 minutes or so I feel better. My problem is I am not getting on the treadmill often enough. I have to start exercising more. I felt so much better when I exercised regulary. I used to do cardio - stationary bike (I could get off this and not feel movement or dizziness afterward) or elliptical and strength training and yoga (my favorite).

I find excercise helps me…Especially cardio… I try to run or the eliptical for an hour every day. Besides the jolt of adrenaline it makes me feel more positive as I am accomplishing something . By working out and trying to get in shape it keeps my mind on something else as far as motivation than the MAV… Unfortunately I gained some weight on the Zoloft so I have to work extra hard…

I think this depends on two factors: how bad your MAV symptoms are and what type of exercise you are doing. In general, some exercise is likely to be beneficial. However, if you are having bad symptoms, particularly with dizziness, I would think that any strenuous exercise (weight lifting, running, etc) could aggrevate your symptoms. Another thing to keep in mind is the stimulation factor. Many here report feeling sensory overstimulation when they do things normally (like go shopping). If you are outside and running, you’ll have extra stimulation from the sights, sounds, and weather. Perhaps exercising inside would be a better solution. I exercise sporatically (meaning when I feel like it) inside on an elliptical machine. That way I can control a lot of the above. Also, it keeps me from getting too overheated, as my med causes this. I feel better after doing it and feel it not only helps my digestive issues, but helps my entire body and mind. I also believe it may help with balance. If I wasn’t so tired after a full day of work, I probably would use it every day, but now it is on weekends and occasionally during the week. I should note though, that compared to many of you, I do not have vertigo, but rather, just daily off-balance/woozy feelings which come and go and are not too bad. So, it may all just depend on the person, but exercise even in a very minimal, slow way, is likely benefical if you can handle it.

Swimming, is an exercise that I found worked well for me. I use a snorkel to help keep my head from moving as little as possible and the swimming seems to feel like I hardly move at all. Never had the since of movement I get from using a treadmill. Try it sometimes, maybe it will work.

Kritylin, Lisa; i have the same stuff going on as you. I bet you feel better in a moving car as well…

Ive found that swimming also cancels the motion, so you could try that. Great exercise, and quite gentle if one chooses it to be so.

MikaelHS - yes, I feel my very best in a moving car. I do sometimes get car sick, but if that doesn’t happen I feel so much better. I mentioned this to a few doctors and they didn’t really get why, but now I am finding more and more MAV sufferers who have this experience.

I have heard that about swimming. I think I may be ok in the pool, but the problem is changing, getting dressed again, etc., etc. I don’t know if others find this but it is even difficult to get dressed because of how tired and dizzy I am. I also dread my daily shower, which I used to love.

Exercise has worked very well for me, although I tend to push the envelope and try to do too much. I’m currently training for a half marathon, and some days it seems like I’ve made a mistake. If I push that envelope too far relative to pace, I’ve found that I can do it, but I pay for it later. That is, my symptoms will kick up either later that day, or the next.

One thing I should mention is yoga. Once again, something I thought I’d never do. My PT recommended it, and like just about anything she did with me, she was right. It can help in a variety of ways, especially with…yes…you guessed it…balance.

I tried swimming a few times. I did the crawl and moved my head from side to side (not very good at swimming). When I got out of the pool I was very dizzy. Then I took my daughter (then small) to the pool and just stood in the baby pool, again very dizzy. I worked out it was the chlorine (watch out for too much chlorine in the pool).

Another thing is blood sugar. Mornings tend to be worse for me. This morning, I did some cleaning and was dizzy, shaking and legs wobbly. My pulse rate was 102. Sat down for half an hour and ate and recovered. Sometimes the drop in blood sugar can bring on the head.