How to Prevent Exercise Headaches

Your blood pressure changes throughout the day – often substantially. For example, upon waking up in the morning, blood pressure is often near its highest. This is the result of your systems waking up and going to a higher level for the day ahead. At night, as you become more tired, blood pressure drops.

Many people get headaches when blood pressure shifts from one level to another. It’s no surprise, then, that exercise-induced headaches are common among those facing chronic headache pain. A headache when exercising can sabotage your workout.


How to Prevent Exercise Headaches

An exercise-induced headache can happen in the middle of a workout or at the end. In the middle of the workout, blood pressure rises and the body works hard to provide the oxygen your tissues need. Blood vessels dilate to meet the demand for oxygen.

At the end of the workout, you begin to ramp down and blood vessels constrict. This can mimic the conditions of a stress headache, an alcohol headache and other types of headache that are produced mainly by constriction of blood vessels.


To avoid a headache triggered by exercising, take these steps:


Stay Hydrated

Make sure to have plenty of water before, during and after your workout. Sweating leaches both moisture and electrolytes from your body. Electrolytes are minerals that carry electrical charges. Drinking water or a low-sugar sports drink helps maintain the body’s balance during exercise.


Warm Up and Cool Down

Taking five minutes of a lighter pace at the start and end of exercise makes headaches less likely. The transition from one level of activity to another is less sudden, giving your body time to react. Blood vessels dilate or constrict in a more gradual way and you’re less likely to hit a sudden blood pressure peak.


Be Alert to Lighting Conditions

If you often have headaches triggered by bright, direct light, it’s important to be alert to the lighting conditions where you will exercise. Gyms with old-fashioned fluorescent lights can cause headaches even when you feel fine otherwise. Be wary of outdoor activities that will lead to a lot of direct sun exposure, such as swimming late in the morning or early afternoon.


New Jersey Headache Institute

If you experience chronic headaches, New Jersey Headache Institute can help. With expert headache diagnosis, we identify and treat the real root cause of your headaches. To get started, book an appointment today.