a Fitness Program
Exercise may sound like a miracle cure. In fact, a complete
exercise program that consists of aerobic exercise, flexibility
exercise and muscular conditioning can improve your fitness and
quality of life in many different ways. Improved sleep quality;
reduced risk of heart disease; weight control; improved blood
cholesterol levels; high blood pressure prevention and management;
prevention of bone loss; boosted energy level; improved self-image;
countered anxiety and depression; increased muscle strength; relief
for stress and tension; improved body posture, and maintenance
of proper range of motion in your joints are many of the positive
effects of exercise. Best of all for headache sufferers, exercise
can help combat problem headache pain.
While the benefits of exercise can be miraculous, starting—and
sticking with—an exercise routine is the first and most important
step. Experts and fitness specialists have told us for years
that exercise is just as important for the average person as it
is for the professional athlete. If you're not an exerciser, the
absence of regular physical activity could make you vulnerable
to chronic headaches as well as other ailments.
Frequent exercise can increase your health and boost your ability
to avoid headaches. Aerobic exercise can promote physiological
relaxation as well as increase your body's production of endorphins
(the natural chemical released when you laugh). Endorphins help
raise your threshold for pain and give you a sense of well-being.
Getting Started. Some gentler forms of exercise such as
brisk walking, pedaling a bike, or swimming are great ways to
get started. Swimming has been found to be especially beneficial
for headache sufferers.
Decide what you want to get accomplished from your exercise
program. Whether it be weight loss, muscle strengthening,
or improve flexibility, be sure to choose the exercise that will
help you achieve these goals. Walking is perhaps the easiest way
to get started. It is an excellent low impact aerobic exercise
and can frequently be done with others to get the added benefit
of social support. Walking is good for weight control, and an
effective way to condition yourself for more strenuous exercise.
Start slowly. Begin for about 15 minutes every day. Listen
to your body, if you're tired or experience pain, slow down or
stop. Add 2 to 5 minutes each week until you can walk for a full
60 minutes. Work to increase your distance and decrease the time
it takes to cover that distance. A good goal to strive for is
4 miles in 60 minutes. When this becomes easy, you're ready for
other forms of aerobic exercise. Remember to always stretch before
any type of exercise—this will help avoid injury or strain.
There are plenty of strength-conditioning programs using free
weights, weight machines or calisthenics if your goal is strengthening
your muscles. Or, if you wish to improve flexibility, try yoga
or simple stretching routines that cover all your major muscle
groups. Always choose a program that suits your goals and lifestyle
Regular exercise isn't easy. Start slow and ease into a
routine to help avoid soreness that can make you feel like quitting.
Be patient and reasonable, exercise rewards come gradually after
eight to twelve weeks.
Use these helpful hints to get the most from your fitness program.
goals. Don't give yourself a general goal of "better fitness".
Be specific, say "I'm going to lose 15 pounds in five months."
Reward yourself. If you reach your goal, buy yourself something
you've wanted for a long time. Just don't congratulate yourself
with a hot fudge sundae.
Keep a log. Details of your exercise routines help you
track your progress and stay motivated.
Pace yourself. Don't overdo it! Strenuous exercise in your
initial workouts is a fast way to injury and loss of motivation.
Find a buddy. Get friends, family or coworkers involved
in your regimen. They can help you stay committed to your routine.
Get your fitness tested. Evaluations will reveal your strengths
and weaknesses, helping you better focus your program.
Avoid boredom. Bored exercisers aren't exercisers for long.
Watch television, listen to the radio or a motivational tape while
exercising. Vary your activity between bicycling, walking, swimming,
or learn a new skill: take up tennis or sign up for a dance or
Remember to check with your doctor before starting any exercise
program. This is especially important if you're over 40, or have
a family history of heart disease or other cardiovascular risk
factors such as smoking, high cholesterol, high blood pressure
In order to achieve any benefits, you must approach an exercise
routine with the right attitude. Don't let concerns about performance
or competition dominate, just do your best, listen to your body
and make exercise fun by choosing an activity you find enjoyable.
The key is to do them consistently—but don't beat yourself up
if you miss a day or two. Remember, it's never too late to start!