Exercise as a Trigger!

HI everyone! One of the only things that I can tell is a trigger for me is any form of exercise! I have worked out all my life and now no matter what type I do I feel it a couple hours later (extreme tiredness, dizziness, brain fog). Does anyone else have this as a trigger? I wonder what a specialist like Dr Hain would say about this (keep exerciseing or not)?

It is a trigger for me too. I find that I can push through it while I’m doing it, but I feel horrible the 2-3 days following. I’m talking severe dizziness and disequilibrium that is unrelenting for days. It was not worth it for me and Dr. Cherchi agreed to lay off until I find a med that better controls my sx.


Have you been able to find a med. thats helps? I have been on Zoloft for about 10 days and it is making the dizziness much worse. I hope that it is just a side effect, but I don’t know how much longer I can take it!

Exercise has not generally been one of my triggers unless I use a particular machine at the gym…I forget the name of it but it’s like your skiing. It really increases the motion when I’m finished.


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Exercise does seem to be a trigger for me too. I don’t get the bad migraines that put me down for 2 days but it is definitely a trigger. I first start getting the nausea at about 15min;then I push through and start getting a little bit more dizzy and keep pushing until after about 30 minutes I have vertigo,nausea and I feel like I am going to pass out along with a headache. Sometimes,I have numbness and tingling. Are these the kinds of symptoms anyone else is having?

I have managed to make some progress with pushing through the symptoms and making sure I am well hydrated and just do walking. My limit is definitely 30 min. My headache usually resolves along with my other symptoms in a couple of hrs. I think my present treatment plan of 150 mg of topamax and 3mg of klonopin has increased my ability to exercise with lessened severity of my symptoms. Although, I still get the headache and all the previous sx mentioned they are are not as severe and occasionally I don’t get but just the slight dizzies and no headache. 30 minutes is definitely my limit.

Yup, exercise is a big trigger for me too. I usually wake up the next morning with loads of pain and am very headachy the next day – sometimes dizzy.

But I’m trying to get a routine up and running again where I do 30 min of moderate intensity walking before work. It’ll no doubt kill me at first and then should get better if it is increased slowly and incrementally. The end result should be a pay off of less migraine activity.

See this thread which discusses “Safe exercise for migraine sufferers”.


This was an interesting case report from 1985:



Scott 8)

I find that ANY exercise (even easy walking at the mall) is my ONLY trigger! I guess I will have to try to find a med that will help! So, do you guys think I should just workout anyways? In hopes that my body will just get used to it!

Has anybody found that they can do a certain type of exercise like Yoga, Elliptical, or running that doesn’t trigger them as much?

Interesting article, Scott.

I feel quite fortunate that I am not floored by exercise the way some of you are. Still, I find that pushing myself too hard when swimming is revealed by fuzzy-mindedness. Luckily, I can back way down, not being in competition with anyone but myself, and it goes away. Presumably I am catching up my cerebral oxygenation, or not holding my thorax locked as stern (um?) ly as I exhale, or something like that.

Physical labors (as in working for a customer or getting a time-sensitive project done) are another matter. When they entail a hard-enough workout, with me telling myself, “I can’t stop now,” I can be pretty wasted for the next day or two.

Excercise is a trigger for me sometimes as well. Sometimes I feel nauseaous/dizzy during the workout and sometimes it’s not until a few hours later. I don’t feel better until I go to sleep. Yoga doesn’t bother me as much as cardio but it can still trigger a small response.

After feeling pretty good all last week, particularly after having some physio on my neck, I am smashed again this morning after doing too much exercise yesterday. I was fine last night thinking I had gotten away with it but by the time I was going to bed my neck and head started hurting slightly. Then I woke at 4 am with heart palpitations feeling really uncomfortable. I took 2.5 mg of valium but spent the next 3 hours having very unrestful and agitated sleep. Today is going to be rough.

It’s very disheartening that exercise can do this. All I did was go for an extended walk down the coast with a friend. :roll:


That’s a bitch, Scott. I know how disheartening it’s been for me to find something that was moderate and reasonable, and not that long ago, was presently beyond my ability to do without paying for it.
I wonder what level of exercise you need to start with in order to build yourself up safely, so a walk along the beach is within your safe capacity?

I finally worked myself up to running a couple of miles outside as oppsed to on the treadmill. I woke up at 4 AM with a headache like I have never had before. I think this was a true “migraine headache.” I almost thought I was going to have to go to the hospital. I will not be pushing myself like that again anytime soon.

I’ve recently cut down my exercise as its about the only thing left I can cut out…Previously I would run 5 miles about 4 times a week.If I over do it major brain fogwill follow but whilst running I dont notice any symptons.Now I’m running 3 miles in roughly the same time I was running 5 and it has cut down the aftermath significantly

Also I noticed that its worse for me running this time of the year when its daylight in the evenings, I actually found it alot better before the clocks changed and I was running in the dusk…photophobia I imagine

CJL, I too find that pace makes the difference. I reached a personal best yesterday swimming, after a long, sometimes very slow, period of months working up to it. I’m a wee bit sore this morning, but that’s it. The trick, I believe, was that I had worked up to where I was not too distant from the goal, and yesterday after I repeated what I’d been doing recently I slowed way, way down to bring myself the rest of the way. Didn’t have a great night’s sleep, but then the weather turned overnight, which has been a primo trigger for me.


When you started the swimming did you have troubles? Have you been able to build this up incrementally and avoid the migraines for the most part now? I’m really having hassles with this. I only need to go for a 30 minute moderate-paced walk and I pay the next day. It drives me crazy and puts me off doing anything.

Thanks … S

Yes, Scott.
Plenty of challenges with the swimming. Have had to increase real slowly. Have paid with soreness and malaise when I’ve increased too quickly, and it was frustrating that I had to start with so little–maybe 4-5 slow laps, when once upon a time – but “once upon a time” is irrelevant. OTOH, I found it a real plus that the water buoys me as I work; that I can back off the effort just like that by slowing way, way down or switching to an easier stroke; that I found a pool that’s a nice, controlled environment, and not heavily chlorinated; and finally, that I started swimming at this pool no more than two or three days a week.

Yes, for months, on my day off, I was sore and out of sorts, but even when I got up feeling poorly, after swimming a bit that faded back. And when I got out of the pool I felt so much better! And the fact that usually I could increase a little from one week to the next, sometimes even within one week, confirmed for me that I was doing something good.

At the previous pool, a local outdoor one, last summer, I’d often stagger a bit when I got out, and when there were no lane delimiters I’d end up criss-crossing all over the place. More than once, a lifeguard would come over when I got out, and ask whether I was okay. I’d just explain that this was a chronic condition I was dealing with, and that I was in fact dealing with it. Now that I finally have the MAV diagnosis and diet, that’s eased a whole, whole lot.

A couple of other factors for me: I trashed my knees, partly in grad school in the mid-70s playing volleyball foolishly, and partly over those parts of the subsequent years when I’ve worked, kneeling, as an electrician. So land exercise is more of a challenge. Also, I gave myself early-stage lung disease, working foolishly around chemicals such as epoxies, and breathing crap in attics and from opened (insulated) walls. Consequently I have an extra-big reason to engage in aerobic exercise, aside from the endorphins, general feeling of fitness, increased resilience, &c. And shoot, I’m 60. So it’s downhill or it’s do whatever I can to restore myself.

Besides, it’s looking as though I may end up shifting further, or all the way, out of electricianing to writing, which will remove an inherent, unprogrammed source of exercise. In the past, I’ve found it so easy to slip out of the habit of using my body energetically when some other priority loomed large.

every damn time I jog, and I mean EVERY time without exception, I get a blasted headache afterwards. It’s definately a migraine as it’s pounding and onesided. I didn’t think I had classical migraineheadaches cause I kinda figured they had more “spooky stuff” with them like visual auras… i’ve reconsidered :wink:

Working out at the gym doesn’t bother me and I can swim and do all sorts of cardio, but every time I go out for a jog I end up with a) a hurting neck, then later b) migraine-attack.

I don’t mind the migraines too much though because when I have the headache the rocking is very very low.

I wonder, Mikael, if this is something that could be ameliorated. With as much of a fitness program as you appear to enjoy, I would expect you to use suitably resilient shoes when you jog, to jog on surfaces that are not overly hard (or otherwise jarring), and to employ stretching. I know you don’t experience a visual aura, but do you notice any physical sensation that precedes the migraine? Could there be any aspect of how you hold your body as you jog that could be modified to make your gait/body more resilient and so reduce the jarring or tension of your top end?


I work as a fitness instructor and teach bootcamp classes. Before I was on Celexa 40 mg I felt dizzy when I exercised…but the more I did it the less dizzy I got. Celexa has help my MAV symptoms get 50% better so exercising is easier now, but if I haven’t slept very well it can be bad. I think everyone should do some type of exercise Dr. Baloh especially said it very important…I also have to say I get less migraines when I exercises.