Cycling can help migraine sufferers cope with the pain

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(CNN) – An estimated 36 million Americans suffer from migraines a neurological disorder commonly characterized by severe headaches.  Medications can alleviate migraine symptoms, but there is no cure.

“There’s not one thing we can do to end the migraines for all time at this point. But there are a lot of different options that we can offer and we can hopefully and most likely get you to a better place than where you are now,” said Dr. Carolyn Bernstein.

Dr Carolyn Bernstein runs the headache center at Boston’s Beth Israel-Deaconess Medical Center.

A migraine sufferer herself, Bernstein is exploring alternative ways to manage the disease, one thing she’s come up with: indoor cycling. It’s a form of exercise ideal for migraine sufferers, Bernstein says, because it’s low-impact, there’s no pounding, and it’s possible cycling could have a beneficial effect on headaches.

“When we exercise, a lot of the time we feel better afterwards. We get all kinds of neurotransmitters going in our brain that can decrease pain levels,” Dr. Bernstein continued.

A Swedish study from 2008 found a regular indoor cycling program actually improved migraine symptoms over a three-month period for most participants in the study.  As always, consult your doctor first, as exercise has also been known to trigger migraine headaches.

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