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January 2022 Issue
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Managing migraine with Mother Nature

Regular walking helps Sarah Cahill manage her migraines

Sarah Cahill suffers from chronic migraine but finds walking and spending time outdoors helps lessen the effects of the condition

I live with chronic migraine. Frequent migraine attacks bring head pain, nausea and brain fog. There’s no cure for this common but misunderstood, under-researched and often undiagnosed neurological condition.

I’ve always enjoyed the outdoors, but living with chronic migraine increases the importance of regular exercise. Over past years my migraine attacks have transitioned from episodic – about one attack a month lasting for three days – to chronic. Most days I have some degree of head pain; some days just a dull ache, on others it feels like my head is being squeezed in a vice. 

Thankfully, walking has helped to minimise the frequency and intensity of my migraine attacks. Medication, supplements, diet, hydration, adequate sleep and lifestyle choices are all important in managing migraine. But, for me, regular exercise is key. 

The Walk1200km challenge is a fantastic opportunity for me to push towards more adventurous hiking. I have a few Great Walks under my belt and plan to complete two more this summer. My husband and I have introduced our two boys, aged nine and 11, to the joy of tramping to a DOC hut, but many challenging adventures are waiting.

I’m fortunate to live near Tamaki Drive in Auckland, an 8.2km seaside walk from the CBD to St Heliers Bay. I never tire of this beautiful walk with views of the Hauraki Gulf islands – Rangitoto, Motutapu, Motukorea, and Waiheke. I also live close to a park with grazing cattle and zig-zagging gravel tracks, so my walks are never a chore.

But I’m also a fair-weather walker. And my head pays the price if I don’t walk regularly. The Walk1200km challenge motivates me to walk in the wind and rain, rather than hide inside by the heat pump during winter.

I hope I’ve set myself up for success. I’ve bought two lightweight tents so we can do more overnighters without relying on huts. I’ve joined the Walk1200km Facebook group. I’ve added plenty of hikes to my wish list. I’ve upped my accountability by sharing my intention on my migraine blog ( 

My migraine brain and I are ready!