Dr. Leddy’s research, that brought us the Buffalo Treadmill Protocol, found that submaximal threshold cardiovascular exercise helps restore balance to a dysfunctional autonomic nervous system. Several articles have also shown that walking decreases headache frequency and quality of life (Cephalalgia 2011;31(14):1428–1438. Headache 2014;54(1):40–53. Headache 2008;48(6):890–899. Int J Sports Med 2011; 32(6):455–460. Headache 2009; 49(4):563–570. Headache 2016;56(2):357–369.). From bestselling author Dr. Ratey, “Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain” goes into the transformative effects of exercise on the brain and is an informative read.
What about for those patients who find it hard to get motivated? There are many strategies but some patients have really enjoyed:
Most of us are aware that headaches are more frequent when one gets dehydrated. Hydration for performance (i.e., reducing headaches) and hydration in the context of cardiovascular collapse are on different levels but are of the same nature. You don’t have to be dehydrated to the point where you will benefit from iv fluids to have your performance affected.
It is important to space your fluid intake out throughout the day as most of the fluid one drinks will go out of the vascular system into the surrounding tissues. If you drink all your water in one fell swoop, lots of it won’t have the time to diffuse to muscles and other tissues where it will be useful before it is excreted by your kidneys.
It is often heard that one should aim for about 2 liters of fluid per day. Fluids that are diuretics (alcohol, tea, coffee, etc.) will detract from this quota. However, the actual quantity of fluid is not a set value and will vary between individuals and activity levels. What constitutes adequate hydration is something learned more through awareness and experience. Aim to keep your urine light in colour (it should have the colour of lemonade but not apple juice). Keep in mind to drink more to account for losses with exercise.