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Study Finds Yoga An Effective Cure For Migraine Headaches

Study Finds Yoga An Effective Cure For Migraine Headaches

If you suffer from severe headaches accompanied by disturbances in vision, nausea and vomiting, tingling in your extremities, pain in your temples, or sensitivity to light, you might be experiencing migraine headaches. These severe symptoms can be debilitating and negatively affect your quality of life.

The Migraine Research Foundation indicates that migraine headaches are common. In fact, approximately 18% of American women and 6% of men suffer from migraine headaches. Thus, if you suffer from migraines, you won’t be surprised that they are the 8th most disabling illness in the world.

According to researchers, there is hope for migraine sufferers. This study published in the International Journal of Yoga, indicates that when yoga is combined with conventional care, migraine headaches can be reduced in intensity and frequency. In this study, patients practiced yoga 5 days a week for 6 weeks and they kept a yoga diary. The practice included loosening and breathing exercises, postures done with awareness and Shavasana (corpse pose).

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If you’re a migraine headache sufferer, you will discover that the findings below are astonishing and could improve your quality of life.

Yoga Improves Quality of Life of Migraine Sufferers

Doctors measure the impact of migraine headaches on their patients’ lives by using the Headache Impact Test (HIT). It assesses the level of disability in a patient’s life, from little or no impact to severe or disabling impact. In the study mentioned above, the patients had a HIT score of more than 60. Consider that 78 is the highest number possible; therefore, migraine headaches were severely impacting their lives. The study concluded that those who combined yoga with conventional care had significantly lowered HIT scores. Thus, their quality of life was significantly improved due to combining a yoga practice with conventional migraine headache therapies.

Yoga Increases Vagal Tone in Migraine Headache Patients

The study also found that yoga, which was combined with conventional care, resulted in reduction in sympathetic tone as well as increased vagal tone. It is hypothesized that those with improved vagal tone have fewer and less severe migraine headaches. Many researchers theorize that yoga improves vagal tone by regulating the nervous system. Vagal tone refers to the activity of our vagus nerve. The vagus nerve is the longest nerve in our bodies, and it controls many functions, but particularly heart rate. For example, those who have strong vagal tone, such as athletes, have a slower resting heart rate.

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Yoga Reduces Stress in Migraine Headache Patients

In addition, the study indicates that slow, mindful exercises such as yoga are beneficial to migraine sufferers due to the stress reduction that this type of exercise provides. Stress can play a big part in triggering episodes of both migraine headaches and tension headaches. Numerous research studies indicate that yoga reduces stress and anxiety and increases feelings of well being. In fact, this study which examined the effects of exercise on stress, found that those who practiced yoga were much less anxious, tense, depressed, angry and fatigued.

How Do You Get Started with Yoga?

Before beginning a new exercise program, you should always consult a doctor. After you’ve been given clearance to begin, you might find that yoga can be confusing because of the many different styles and levels.

If your goal is to reduce migraine headaches and you’re a beginner, look for classes such as stress-reduction yoga, integrative yoga therapy, restorative yoga, gentle yoga, Hatha or Kundalini. There are many other suitable styles as well. It’s best to discuss your goals with a yogi at your chosen studio or health center of choice.

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You can find many gentle yoga classes at local health clubs, hospitals and yoga studios. And, some instructors will teach you yoga at home. Sometimes it takes time to find a studio and instructor that’s right for you, but don’t give up because the instructor can greatly influence the quality of your experience.

The gear is fairly simple. It’s imperative that you have a yoga mat. Many studios provide them for you, but sometimes at a rental fee so it’s a good idea to purchase one. Generally, you will use yoga props such as blankets, blocks and bolsters, and the yoga studio typically provides them.

Yoga isn’t meant to be a fashion show so focus on comfort when choosing your attire. Ensure your clothing allows for easy movement. Pants that are specifically designed for yoga are helpful because they typically don’t slip down or slide up while performing poses. Avoid zippers, buttons and drawstrings, as they can feel uncomfortable during certain poses.

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The most important thing to remember is that yoga is not a competition and you shouldn’t feel as though you’re being judged. Relaxation, mindfulness and your well being are important aspects. The focus is on you, your breath and your energy.

Namaste.

Featured photo credit: Syda Productions via shutterstock.com

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Marilyn Rogers

Marketing Consultant | Content Strategist | Freelance Writer

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Last Updated on January 5, 2021

15 Fitness Goals That Will Help You Live a Healthier Life This Year

15 Fitness Goals That Will Help You Live a Healthier Life This Year

Starting a journey with fitness goals is never easy, and you must remember this is not a crash diet; it is a lifestyle. Don’t panic and think you have to do it all at once, as this will most likely overwhelm you. You may also find yourself giving up because crash diets are not sustainable.

The best approach is to make simple changes to your daily habits, and over time, you will notice all your bad habits have turned into good ones.

Accordingly to a study by Phillippa Lally, a health psychology researcher at University College London, on average, it takes more than 2 months before a new behavior becomes automatic — 66 days to be exact.[1] And how long it takes a new habit to form can vary widely depending on the behavior, the person, and the circumstances.

Here are 15 fitness goals to help you on your journey:

1. Drink More Water

W.H. Auden said it best when he said,

“Thousands have lived without love, not one without water.”

With any diet, the most important thing to remember is to stay hydrated. Drinking water will support your body with digestion, transporting nutrients to your bones and muscles, and even improving cognitive function.

Ideally, you want to drink about half your body weight in ounces per day, i.e. if you weight 150 pounds, you should drink 75 ounces of water a day.

2. Add Some Lemon and Apple Cider Vinegar to Your Water

It is recommended we sleep for about 8 hours a day, but this means we spend about 8 hours per day dehydrated. Therefore, hydrating your body first thing in the morning is absolutely necessary.

The best way to achieve hydration is by starting your day with a glass or even two of water. For that extra boost, add lemon juice and ½ teaspoons of apple cider vinegar. The lemon and apple cider vinegar will help your body with detoxifying, cleansing, and digestion.

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3. Stop Drinking Your Calories

Yes, keeping hydrated is important, but try to avoid high-calorie drinks, such as soft drinks, specialty coffee, and juices as they are full of fast-acting sugar.

Really push yourself to stop drinking such drinks, and before you know it, you will notice the benefits.

4. Start Stretching More Often

The benefits are vast and the repercussions of failing to stretch can be dramatic.

Do yourself a favor and always stretch before and after a workout. This will promote a healthy cool down, improve flexibility, and reduce next day aches. Failure to stretch can lead to injures and muscle damage.

Here’re some simple stretching exercises to get you started: 15 Static Stretching Exercises to Totally Enhance Your Workout Routine

5. Add in Some High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

You may have heard about HIIT training because it is the big thing right now, and believe me when I say that it works and should absolutely be included in your fitness goals.

The benefits include lower body fat, increased stamina, leaner muscles, and fantastic hormonal benefits.

HIIT is where you perform an intense exercise for a very short time frame (about 30 seconds), followed by a slower exercise for about 90 seconds.

Performing a HIIT routine for 1-3 times a week will lead to great results.

6. Focus on Your Breathing When You Work Out

For the most part, breathing is second nature, but when exercising, you may find yourself holding your breath, and this can have negative consequences.

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It is important to consciously take deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth, as this will fill your lungs with oxygen and give you the necessary energy to continue your workout.

7. Build More Lean Muscle

We all want to have lean muscles. Not only does it look good, but it also has great health benefits, including:

  • Improved posture
  • Reduced body fat
  • Improved metabolism
  • Strong bones
  • Protects and improves joint health
  • Improved stamina

You can build lean muscle by lifting weights or through other specific exercises. Learn more about building muscle in this guide: How Long Does it Take to Build Muscle and Increase Fat Loss?

8. Decrease Body Fat

This may seem like an obvious one, but it is one of the most important steps to a healthier you. Reducing your body fat has a lot of benefits such as:

  • Improved joints and tendons
  • Lowered risk of diabetes
  • Reduced risk of heart disease
  • Reduced inflammation
  • Better performance and endurance
  • Improved appearance and confidence
  • Better hormonal profiles in your body

Remember, it is not a race to see how quickly you can decrease your body fat. Healthy weight loss is around 1-2 pounds a week for your fitness goals.[2]

Crash dieting or pushing yourself too much in the gym can lead to you achieving an unrealistic target, and you may find yourself gaining all the weight you have lost.

Think of it as a lifestyle, and take it slow and steady.

9. Eat More Greens

What you eat is the most important factor in a healthier living plan. It is important to ensure you are getting as many nutrients and vitamins from the food you are eating as possible.

Focus on dark, leafy greens, as they will provide you with a wide array of vitamins, minerals, nutrients and antioxidants—all of which you body needs!

Don’t forget to avoid processed and manufactured food. They are usually high in fat and have minimal vitamins.

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10. Start Eliminating Sugar

Another top goal you can start immediately is reducing the amount of sugar you consume. It also won’t cost you anything, and will save you money and improve your health in the long run.

There’s no surprise we eat too much sugar, and this should be one of your top fitness goals moving forward. Cutting out liquid calories is a great way to start. If you’re looking for something sweet, turn to fruits or even dark chocolate.

Be careful to eliminate sugar from your diet slowly. Cutting it out all at once can cause symptoms of sugar withdrawal, which can drive you back to sugary snacks[3].

Common symptoms of sugar withdrawal

    11. Allow Yourself to Rest and Recover

    The workout is where you go to break down muscle tissue, and it builds back through proper nutrition, rest, and recovery[4]. It might be tempting to go to the gym for two hours every day as hard as you can to achieve your goals, but that’s not the most effective approach.

    If you don’t allow for proper rest and recovery, it can set you back a few steps. Your body is more prone to injury and even illness as you can weaken your immune system from all the progressive intensity the body is facing.

    12. Get More Sleep

    When you are deprived of sleep, you make it next to impossible to achieve your health and fitness goals. Lack of sleep can increase stress hormones in your body, and over time these can lead to inflammation and chronic diseases.[5]

    Make sleep a priority to let your body heal and rejuvenate. A good approach is 7 to 8 hours. Also, allow yourself some wind-down time and a pre-bed routine to help get more consistent sleep every night.

    13. Focus on the Habit, Not the Result

    It’s easy to get caught up in trying to achieve a certain look or shed time off of your mile, but the more important focus is on the habit that will bring you closer to those fitness goals.

    Don’t look at the scale, the tape measurer, or the body fat percentage. Focus on the habits that will lead to those achievements.

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    Don’t compare yourself to where others are; you’re right where you need to be.

    14. Take Your Fitness Outside

    This may be hard depending on the weather you experience, but the more you can be outside exposed to fresh air and sunlight, the better.

    Being stuck in the gym doing cardio while staring at a wall won’t do much for your mental stimulation.

    Try to challenge your body more by getting outside. Hiking is great and also just running and walking. Give yourself more access to nature and a constantly changing environment. It also beats breathing in that recycled gym air.

    15. Do at Least One Pull Up

    This is a great last goal to focus on because it’s a great test of strength and to see how you are progressing with your fitness.

    If you haven’t been able to do one, you know what a challenge it can be. Having the goal of doing at least one pull up will not only show you how far you’ve progressed, but it is a great way to become dedicated and motivated.

    The Bottom Line

    These fitness goals will become more attainable through the year if you’re consistent with your fitness. Set yourself a concrete timeline for when you want to accomplish some or all of these in order to create realistic goals in the short term. In fact, start making one of these goals happen this month!

    More on Setting Fitness Goals

    Featured photo credit: Ivan Torres via unsplash.com

    Reference

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