Q: Can exercise ward off migraines?
By and large, research has shown that for people predisposed to migraines, regular exercise, at least a few times a week, either does no harm or may have modest benefits.
In one of the most thorough studies, published in the journal Cephalalgia in October, researchers in Sweden randomly split 91 migraine sufferers into three groups. One group exercised for 40 minutes three times a week. Another was given topiramate, a drug that helps prevent migraines. The third underwent regular relaxation exercises.
The study lasted three months, and the subjects were monitored over an additional six months.
The scientists found that the rate of migraines fell in all three groups, and that each intervention was equally effective. They noted that for people who want to reduce migraines without the side effects of drugs, exercise may be a good alternative.
In a smaller study, the same researchers looked at 26 migraine sufferers before, during and after cycling sessions on stationary bikes at a clinic in Sweden. The subjects cycled three days a week for three months. At the end of the study, they saw improvements in cardiovascular fitness and reductions in the severity and number of migraines they experienced.
Q: Why does some hair frizz when it’s humid?
Your hair may be too dry when it meets humid air, suggested Dr. Andrew Avarbock, a dermatologist at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center.
“Hair is composed primarily of lipids, water and a protein called keratin, important for hair strength and structure,” Avarbock said. “Alterations in these components affect the quality of hair. People with dry hair are the ones who mainly experience the frizz in humid weather. When it’s humid outside, dry or porous hair soaks up the excess water in the air, which alters interactions between keratin proteins.”
The outcome is swelling of the hair and breaks in its outer layer, called the cuticle, he said, resulting in the appearance of frizz.
“If hair is well moisturized, then environmental changes, such as in humidity, will have less impact on it.”
Some kinds of hair are more prone to becoming frizzy, he said, including hair damaged by overheating, chemicals for coloring and permanent waves or vigorous brushing. Overuse of shampoos and alcohol-based gels and sprays also promotes drying.