Reducing the incidence of migraines with the right exercise

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A study1 sought to find what type of exercise had the biggest impact on reducing migraines. Subjects were put in three groups. One group did high-intensity interval training (HIIT), another did moderate continuous exercise, and the third did no exercise. The conclusion:

“The data showed high-intensity training significantly reduced the frequency of migraine attacks.”

Why is HIIT effective? The researchers concluded that:

“The ‘afterburn’ effect of high-intensity training has a positive impact. After you do high-intensity training, your body for a long period has to have certain adaptations. You need more oxygen after the workout [Excessive Post-exercise Consumption] than you do when you have just continuous, moderate-pace exercise.”

Another study examining the afterburn affect found that:

“Both resistance training and intermittent aerobic training [Sprint training on bikes] increased excess post exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC) to a greater degree than did steady-state work [Running].”

The type of resistance training is also a factor.  High intensity resistance training (HIT) produces more EPOC than any other form of resistance training.   HIT and sprint training on bikes is what we do at our Austin Strength Training and New Orleans Strength Training facilities. 

One of our clients, Joan, had suffered from migraines the past 15 years. Narcotics were often necessary to alleviate her pain.  She has worked out with us for two months now. She reports that she has stopped having the migraines.

Study finds elevated metabolism 21 hours after exercise session with certain types of exercise


You can maintain an elevated metabolism long after your exercise session is over – even into the next day – with certain types of exercise.  After exercising it takes a period of time for your resting metabolism to return to normal. The type of exercise you do is a determining factor in how long your metabolism will remain elevated.  

In an exercise study, ten young men performed three different exercise routines one week apart. Each session burned the same number of calories.  The first week was resistance training, the next week was steady-state aerobic exercise, and the last week was high-intensity intermittent aerobic training.

The subjects’ resting metabolic rate (RMR) was measured at 12 hours and 21 hours after each session.  The results from the study1:

“The steady-state trial did not influence RMR at either 12 hour or 21 hour post-exercise.  Both resistance training and intermittent aerobic training increased excess post exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC) to a greater degree than did steady-state work, indicating that either mode may be more effective at increasing total daily caloric expenditure than steady-state aerobic exercise.”

The study reported that resistance training produced more EPOC than the other two modes of exercise at both the 12 hour and 21 hour mark.  The type of resistance training is also a factor.  High intensity resistance training (HIT) produces more EPOC than any other form of resistance trainingHIT is what we do at our Austin Strength Training and New Orleans Strength Training facilities. 

 The study demonstrates that in the short-run resistance training can temporarily raise your metabolism up to 21 hours after your workout.  In the long-run as you become stronger your body will have a permanently higher RMR. While a higher metabolism helps, it is important to note that studies show that exercising is not the key to weight loss.  Eating less is.

The right kind of exercise to lose weight

A NYT article concluded that To Lose Weight, Eating Less Is Far More Important Than Exercising More:

Reasons for that mentioned in the article:

  1. Exercise stimulates the appetite.
  2. Exercise over time makes us more efficient.  A more efficient body burns less calories.
  3. Exercise burns precious few calories.

You can eat three less Oreos or run an extra mile to have the same calorie deficit.  You can exercise strenuously for 30 minutes or drink two less 16 ounce cokes. That is an easy call for me.

The article states:

“When you lose weight, metabolism often slows. Many people believe that exercise can counter or even reverse that trend. Research, however, shows that the resting metabolic rate in all dieters slows significantly, regardless of whether they exercise. This is why weight loss, which might seem easy when you start, becomes harder over time.”

I think that depends on the type of exercise. For more on the right type of exercise go here.  The right kind of exercise can counter a diet-induced slowed metabolism. A stronger body will have a higher resting metabolism, and proper strength training will burn calories four ways.  When you restrict calories the body, as an act of self-preservation, will lower its metabolism by consuming lean body mass.  Strength training sends the opposite message -–you need to maintain that lean body mass to survive the demands placed on it.  

A stronger body will burn more calories even at rest. At New Orleans Fitness Trainers and at Austin Personal Training we can show you how to workout effectively and efficiently, get stronger, and even burn a few calories. 

Cardiovascular benefits of strength training

After a high intensity strength training workout you will be breathing hard.  This video was taken three minutes after a workout, so that I could get some of my wind back and have my pulse come down a bit.  EPOC, Essessive Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption is high after aerobic exercise, higher still after a strength training workout, and highest after a high intensity strength training workout.  A higher level of EPOC means more calories burned.  With a high intensity strength training workout, besides getting stronger, you will  positively affect your cardiovascular system, lower your sugar, and and burn calories long after the workout is over.

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

From this article, Short workouts: Will exercising for 15 minutes once a week get you fit? are some quotes and responses after the quotes.

“It sounds too good to be true”

If something is too be good to be true then it follows that it really is too good to be true. The truth is the workouts are very demanding, but they won’t take a lot of your week. Anyone with proper instruction can do it though: you build up to it slowly. Our oldest client was 95 years old.

“Over the past decade, many trainers have begun advocating for shorter, less-frequent workout regimens – claiming that they are much more efficient for weight loss and muscle building.”

The truth is these workouts have been around for decades. Forty years ago body builder Mike Mentzer did as little as four exercises a week.

“The key to the short workout’s success revolves around a concept known as high-intensity interval training (HIIT). HIIT is a heightened form of interval training that involves alternating between periods of short, intense physical activity and fixed periods of low activity or rest."

“With more traditional workouts, there was a tendency to pace yourself – so holding back for the first 20 to 30 minutes. But when you design them shorter with very few breaks in between…you’re moving multiple body parts over the course of one movement, the heart rate is higher, and it just becomes more efficient.”

With longer volume-type workouts the goal is to do more – more reps or more sets. The only way to do that is to try to conserve your efforts. There is a bias away from intensity. With HIIT the goal is to make the reps so intense that you cannot do additional reps. Exercising with a bias toward intensity results in a much more productive session.

“Furthermore, some studies suggest that these periods of high intensity exercise produce a unique metabolic response in the body, causing it to continue to burn fat for up to 24 to 48 hours post-workout.”

This is called Excessive Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC), and there is no other form of exercise that produces more EPOC than HIIT for strength.

The article goes on to talk about frequency of exercise. You will be able to do sprint training more often than strength training. If you are doing sprint interval training there is less restructuring of tissue taking place after the exercise, while HIIT strength training involves extensive restructuring of damaged tissue after a bout of exercise. It will take longer to totally recover. It will vary by individual as to the necessary recover time.

Our experience after conducting literally tens of thousands of exercise sessions over the years is that less is more. We start from the premise of seeing how little exercise is needed to produce significant results rather than from the premise of seeing how much exercise one can withstand. The former is a prescription for progress, and the later is a prescription for over-training.

At Austin Personal Training and at New Orleans Fitness Trainers we can help you gradually build up to a high intensity strength training or an aerobic high intensity training program that is safe, effective, and efficient for your age and condition. You need not spend hours in the gym to feel better, look better, and perform better.

High Intensity Interval Training Lowers Blood Sugar

[Lief, one of our clients' has gone from five insulin shots a day down to one. He has been training with us for about four years. His video testimonial is on this page.]

Short, intense bursts of activity to mini workouts seemed better able to metabolize sugars – from this article Brief Brief, intense exercise lowers blood sugar:

"Small, new study found that 30 minutes of high-intensity exercise a week -- a total exercise time of 75 minutes a week with warm-up and cool-down included -- could lower blood sugar levels for 24 hours after exercise, and help prevent post-meal blood sugar spikes in people with type 2 diabetes.

"If people are pressed for time -- and a lot of people say they don't have enough time to exercise -- our study shows that they can get away with a lower volume of exercise that includes short, intense bursts of activity," said the study's senior author, Martin Gibala."

This interval training can be done on most aerobic equipment. Interval training can also be incorporating into strength training - perform a series of high intensity strength training exercises will little rest between the exercises.

This form high intensity interval strength training produces more Excess Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC) than any other form of exercise. This is the type of personal training we do at New Orleans Fitness Trainers and at Austin Personal Training.

What is E.P.O.C?

The Wikipedia definition of EPOC : “Excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC) is a measurably increased rate of oxygen intake following strenuous activity.”

Anaerobic exercise increases EPOC more than aerobic exercise does. Resistance exercise (strength training) is primarily anaerobic. Circuit resistance training produces the largest EPOC response.

According to Murphy, E. and Swartzkopf, R. 1992 (Effects of standard set and circuit weight training on excess post-exercise oxygen consumption. Journal of Applied Sport Science Research, 6(2), 88-91), circuit resistance training produces a larger EPOC response compared to the standard resistance training. At Austin Personal Training and at New Orleans Fitness Training circuit resistance training is one of protocols we use. 

Our aim is to safely increase exercise intensity over a period of weeks. We work muscles to a deep fatigue and then quickly moving to the next exercise. Each individual will go to an intensity level that will be appropriate for them, one the person feels she or he can reasonably handle. We will gradually increase the amount of weight lifted and at the same time, lessen the time between exercises. No time is wasted. 

You will be surprised how hard you will be breathing after such a workout. Such a personal training session will not take long, about 20 to 25 minutes. You will increase strength, flexibility, tone, muscle, cardiovascular ability, and produce a larger EPOC response – you will burn more calories during and after the workout. This is an efficient workout, as it affects so many factors of good health in such a short amount of time. If you don’t have time to exercise or if you hate exercise but know you have to do it this is the type of exercise that produces the most bang with minimal time in the gym.

Does added muscle burn significant calories

Does adding a pound of muscle burn the often-quoted number of 50 calories a day? The 50-calorie-a-day number can’t be true if one makes the assumption that the muscle tissue you all ready had before adding that pound of muscle will produce the same calorie burn - i.e. all lean muscle tissue consumes 50 calories a day. A 155 pound man with 62 pounds of skeletal muscle would have to consume 3100 calories each day just to support his muscles.

A more reasonable assumption is that strength training will results in an increase in resting metabolism for existing muscle plus and an additional increase in metabolism for new muscle. From the article examining two studies Why The Confusion on Muscle and Metabolism? Wayne Wescott concludes:

Strength training does have a significant elevating effect on resting metabolic rate, and is therefore a highly beneficial exercise for increasing daily calorie utilization and enhancing fat loss. It would appear that the metabolic increase occurs in all of the strength trained muscle tissue, and that the additional energy utilization may be about 1.5 calories per pound of muscle per day.

The stats from the studies examined:

A standard three-month strength training program may produce the following effects in previously sedentary adults and seniors:

1. Increase overall resting metabolism by
about 7 percent.
2. Increase lean (muscle) weight by about 3 pounds.
3. Increase daily resting metabolic rate in all of the trained muscle by about
1.5 calories per pound (from 5.7 calories per pound to 7.2 calories per pound).

Interestingly both studies were conducted using brief, intense 30 minute workouts of the type we use at our facilities- Austin Personal Trainers andNew Orleans Personal Training. With strength training you burn calories four ways:

1. Added muscle burns additional calories.

2. Excess Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC) - recovery and rebuilding muscle as a result of the workout

3. The workout itself.

4. Existing muscle regularly trained will experience an increase in tone and an increase in resting metabolism.

Strength training is something one might want to consider if one is embarking on a weight loss program. Not only will stronger people burn more calories at rest, people who are stronger can engage in more activities and do them for longer periods with less chance of injury creating a beneficial cycle of fat burning. For those will little free time you might want to consider high intensity strength training. For time spent nothing burns more calories than high intensity strength training - nothing. One study examining the effect of high intensity strength training on metabolism showed a nine-fold improvement in fat burning.

Burn calories four ways with strength training

Strength training helps you burn calories four ways:

1. Calories burned after the exercise stops. Excess Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC) occurs after the workout. After running your body replenishes sugar stores. Strength training produces a larger post-exercise calorie demand as the body replaces sugar and rebuilds muscle as a result of the micro-trauma that has been imposed on the muscles.


2. Added muscle burns additional calories. Muscle is metabolically expensive to maintain and will require calories 24/7.

3. The workout itself. All forms of exercise burn calories, but not really as much as people think. Those who exercise with lesser intensity will burn less calories that those who exercise with more intensity.


4. Existing muscle. Existing muscle regularly strength trained will experience an increase in tone and an increase in resting metabolism. You burn more calories 24/7. Running does not produce a similar result. For more on existing muscle burning more calories see this post.

Not only will stronger people burn more calories at rest, people who are stronger can engage in more activities and do them for longer periods with less chance of injury creating a beneficial cycle of fat burning. Strength training is something to consider if one is looking to lose weight.

For those will little free time you might want to consider high intensity training (HIT) for strength. One study examining the effect of high intensity strength training on metabolism showed a nine-fold improvement in fat burning. High intensity training is the type of personal training we do atAustin Fitness Training and at New Orleans Personal Training. HIT is only performed once or twice a week for about 30 minutes. This will free you up to do other calories-burning recreational activities. It is a win, win, win ... proposition.

Burn calories long after your exercise session in over

We burn calories four ways. One of the ways is the burning of additional calories after the exercise session is over. Excess Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC) is a measurably increased rate of oxygen intake following strenuous activity. All forms of exercise produce EPOC and burn additional calories post exercise. Strength training produces more EPOC; high intensity circuit strength training produces more than lower intensity strength training.

In one study, Effects of resistance exercise bouts of different intensities but equal work on EPOC, two groups underwent strength training, one at low intensity and the other at a high intensity. The conclusion:

“High-intensity exercise (85% 8-RM) will produce similar exercise oxygen consumption, with a greater EPOC magnitude and volume than low-intensity exercise (45% 8-RM)".

Subjects lifting more weight fewer times burned more energy and had a greater metabolic boost after exercise. The amount of additional calories burned after exercise can be significant. One study demonstrated a ninefold improvement in fat burning with high intensity interval training (HIIT).

HIIT is the type of personal training we do at Austin Personal Training and at New Orleans Fitness Trainers. The personal training sessions are short (20 to 30 minutes) and infrequent (once or twice a week) but demanding especially in regard to calorie burning. For those who wish to do more exercise this personal training program will free up your time to do other types of calorie-burning activities.