The aim of this analysis is to determine whether regular physical activity is associated with less analgesic use in men and women suffering from headache disorders based on population-based cross-sectional data.
We used data from a random general population sample in Germany that comprised 2477 participants aged ≥ 14 years. A standardized questionnaire addressing headache and headache treatment was filled in during the face-to-face survey.
Thirty-nine percent of the participants reported headache. Of these, 37.5% of men and 33.6% of women were physically active. Of the participants with headache, 43.3% reported taking analgesics on  10 days a month. Frequent headache, severe impact of headache on daily life, and depressive symptoms were associated with higher analgesic use in both men and women. For women, physical inactivity was associated with the frequency of analgesic use adjusted for sociodemographic and headache-related variables. For men, results did not suggest any association between physical inactivity and frequency of analgesic use.
There are both sex-unspecific and sex-specific factors associated with analgesic use among men and women with headache. In women with increased analgesic use, promoting physical activity may reduce analgesic use. For men, education about the therapeutic effects of physical activity for headaches is an important resource.

© 2022. The Author(s).