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Is Exercise A Pain In Your Head?

By Sherri L Dodd

School had closed for summer and already schedules were clashing. What this means to most moms is that we will finagle and work the daily agenda around our children's various activities and destinations, but it will take some time to find the niche where we will be able to accomplish our own vested pursuits. For me, it means my regular workout time has been severely compromised. My first attempt at spontaneous workout came a couple days ago. I decided that there was adequate time for a quick routine in the morning on my sunny, warm deck looking down into the valley of redwoods. However, half way through my routine, I began to get a headache. After a few sporadic sips from my water bottle, I cancelled the remaining fifteen minutes and headed for the shower. While it was only 10:00am and the sun was not very high, the conditions were enough to create a reaction to the exertion. Looks like my kids' different schedules are a pain in the behind, but my chosen routine for that morning mixed with sun, heat and hunger caused a real pain in the head.

While exercise is crucial for quality of life, when performed in inauspicious conditions it can have unpleasant side effects. Headaches are not so uncommon to some fitness enthusiasts. It does not matter whether you are in impeccable shape or just starting out, the results of not calculating the physiological and environmental factors on any particular given day can leave the most muscle-toned body wishing for quick pain relief.

In general, there are three types of headaches that can be associated with exercise - the migraine, the exertional vascular headache and tension-type headaches. The migraine being the most notorious of the group is usually triggered by factors such as skipping meals, poor sleep, foods or food additives and even Mother Nature's daily choice of the weather. Mix this formula with a sudden bout of intense exercise and those with a propensity for migraines will be heading for the darkest cave.

Exertional vascular headaches may have similar effects of a migraine but happen most always when the person exercises. In the event of a frequency of these headaches, it is advised to seek medical advice in case there is a more serious underlying cause. However, with a clean bill of health, the doctor may decide to prescribe some form of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication.

Finally, the tension-type headache has got to be the staple of moms everywhere. Only topped by the seasonal sinus headaches of those is lushly green and floral areas, the tension-type headache is the most common occurring in 90% of the population. Stress combined with an incorrect progression of exercise is known to cause this particular headache.

In most situations following a set of precautionary guidelines will not only stave off potential headaches but will also lower the risk of overall injury. Begin with an adequate warm-up, slowly warming the muscles and preparing the cardiovascular system for activity. Then, let the session sufficiently progress from a lower intensity initial phase on toward the higher levels. Before exercising, be aware of environmental factors such as pollution (i.e., exhaust from passing cars, secondhand smoking, etc.) and temperature (i.e., hydrate, wear layered clothing, etc.) if exercising outdoors.

A tactical approach is needed to execute a safe and effective workout plan. It will not only keep the pain away, it will insure that you complete a session of one of the most crucial elements for superior health.

About The Author
Sherri L Dodd is the creator and author of the newly-released book, Mom Looks Great - The Fitness Program for Moms. She is an ACE-certified Personal Trainer and Lifestyle & Weight Management Consultant with over fifteen years of exercise experience. She has lectured to groups on her fitness plan and is a freelance writer on the topics of fitness and general nutrition as well as the humorous side of motherhood.


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