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Should You Work Out When You Have a Headache—or Skip It?
If you regularly suffer from primary or secondary headaches during exercise, work closely with your doctor to determine the cause of the headaches and a treatment plan before you develop or continue an exercise program. Your doctor can give specific advice on exercises he or she recommends, as well as what you should avoid.
It’s never a good idea to try and push through pain.
If you have a headache (whether triggered by exercise or something else), consider decreasing the intensity of your workout to something more comfortable. If you were planning to run, take a walk instead. If the headache is significant, consider taking a day of rest. Trying to just push through can end up making the problem worse. For general headaches that aren't a chronic problem, use your best judgment. Pick a workout and intensity that feels right to you, or skip exercise if your headache is worsened by exertion or you just don't feel up to it.
There are a wide variety of over-the-counter medications used to treat headaches. Some can cause issues with dehydration or other side effects if taken before or during a workout. If you’re not sure which one is right for you, consult your local pharmacist or physician.
Tips to Prevent Exercise-Related Headaches
There’s no guaranteed method for preventing headaches during exercise. While certain techniques may work well for one person, the same might not work for another. You will want to experiment to figure out how to lessen the chances and severity of your headaches, while maintaining an active lifestyle without too much discomfort. Here are a number of suggestions that may help.