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Exercise for Restless Leg Syndrome

The 10 Best Exercises and Activities

natural remedies for restless leg syndrome

Restless leg syndrome is a neurological disorder characterized by strong urges to move your legs when they are still. If left untreated, it can be very unpleasant and cause discomfort, pain and sleep problems. The good news is that regular exercise and natural remedies can be very beneficial to people suffering from restless leg syndrome. In this article, I’m going to be taking a deeper look at the role of exercise for restless leg syndrome and how you can use exercise to treat this disorder.

How Does Exercise Help Restless Leg Syndrome?

 
Exercise is beneficial for preventing and treating restless leg syndrome. According to this article, people who don’t exercise are 3.3 times more likely to develop restless leg syndrome than those who exercise regularly. Additionally, this study from the Journal of American Board of Family Medicine measured the effect of exercise on people who had restless leg syndrome over a 12 week period and found that on average it reduced the severity of the symptoms by 40%.
 

Tips For Exercising With Restless Leg Syndrome

Although regular exercise generally has a positive effect on restless leg syndrome certain types of exercise are much more beneficial than others. The tips listed below are designed to help you choose the best exercises for treating restless leg syndrome.
 

1. Exercise Regularly

It's important to remember when exercising with restless leg syndrome is that it can take weeks or even months before the benefits kick in. So it’s crucial that you stay consistent and exercise regularly even if you don’t notice any immediate improvements in your restless leg syndrome. For the greatest benefit, try to exercise at least five times per week for 30 minutes each session.
 

2. Exercise Early

Exercising too close to your bedtime can aggravate the symptoms of restless leg syndrome and make it harder to sleep. To avoid this problem, exercise first thing in the morning if possible. If you can’t fit in an early morning workout, make sure you workout a few hours before you go to bed. Additionally, it's wise to reduce your physical activity levels in the last few hours of the day.
 

3. Choose Low-Impact Exercises

Studies have shown that intense, high impact exercises can make the symptoms more severe. So, to get the most from your workout program, select gentle, low impact exercises. Cycling, light weight training, swimming, walking, and yoga are all excellent choices. These will give you a good workout without aggravating your restless leg syndrome.
 

4. Incorporate Cardiovascular & Resistance Training

When starting a workout program, many people make the mistake of sticking to just one type of exercise. Yet, research has shown that both cardiovascular and resistance training can help reduce the symptoms of restless leg syndrome. To get the most results from your exercise program… Make sure you incorporate both these types of training and try to do each one at least twice a week.

Although regular exercise generally has a positive effect on restless leg syndrome certain types of exercise are much more beneficial than others. The tips listed below are designed to help you choose the best exercises for treating restless leg syndrome.

natural remedies for restless leg syndrome

Exercise For Restless Leg Syndrome

1. Calf Stretch

 
The calf stretch is an excellent way to relieve the symptoms of RLS and make your calves more flexible. To perform this exercise, stand two feet away from a wall and then place your hands and left toes against the wall. Then push your hips forward to stretch your calves and hold the stretch for 30 seconds. After 30 seconds, switch the position of your feet, so that your right toes are against the wall. Then push your hips forward and hold the stretch for 30 seconds. As you get more experienced, try to hold the stretch for longer to further improve your flexibility and manage your restless leg syndrome.
 
 

2. Cycling

 
Cycling is another brilliant exercise that reduces symptoms by getting your legs moving. It also improves your cardiovascular fitness and flexibility. Plus, it allows you to top up your vitamin D levels by getting outside. For the best results, try to cycle for a least 30 minutes each session and extend the length of your cycling sessions as your fitness improves.
 

3. Hamstring Curl

 
The hamstring curl is a resistance based exercise that strengthens your hamstrings to minimizes the symptoms of RLS. To perform hamstring curls, grab a set of ankle weights and wrap them around your ankles. Then kneel and lean forward, so that your knees are bent at a 90-degree angle and your arms and back are straight. After this, straighten your left leg out behind you, so that your ankle, knee, and hip are aligned. Bend your knee and curl your ankle towards your butt until it’s contracted. Then extend your leg and return to the starting position. Repeat for 10 repetitions, then switch legs and perform 10 hamstring curls with your right leg. As you get more experienced with hamstring curls, try adding extra resistance… Or do more repetitions to build strength in your hamstrings.
 
 

4. Hamstring Stretch

 
The hamstring stretch is a fantastic way to keep your hamstrings flexible to offset the symptoms of restless leg syndrome. To perform this exercise, sit on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you. Then lean forward with your hands until you cannot stretch any further and then hold this position for 30 seconds. As you get more experienced, try to hold the stretch for longer to further improve your flexibility and manage your restless leg syndrome.
 
 

5. Leg Extension

 
The leg extension builds strength in your quadriceps and also helps to treat the symptoms of restless leg syndrome. To perform leg extensions, grab a set of ankle weights, wrap them around your ankles and then sit on a chair. Extend your legs until they are straight without locking your knees. Then lower your legs back down to the starting position and repeat for 10 repetitions. As you get more experienced with leg extensions, try adding extra resistance or performing more repetitions to build strength in your quadriceps.
 
 

6. Squats

 
Squats are one of the best leg strengthening exercises to target your hamstrings, quadriceps, and calves. They also have a positive effect on restless leg syndrome. To perform squats, stand with your legs shoulder-width apart and clasp your hands together in front of your chest. Bend your knees while keeping your back straight and lower yourself down until your knees are bent at a 90-degree angle. Once your knees reach this position, slowly raise yourself back up to the starting position and repeat for 10 repetitions. As you get more experienced with squats… Try adding extra resistance or do more repetitions to build strength in your legs.
 
 

7. Step Ups

 
Step ups are a simple but effective way to improve both your cardiovascular fitness and your leg strength. They also keep the negative symptoms of restless leg syndrome at bay. To perform step ups, grab a stable chair that will hold your full body weight without collapsing or wobbling. Place your right foot on the chair while leaving your left foot planted on the floor. Then raise your left foot off the ground, step up, touch it against the top of the chair and drop back down. Repeat for 10 repetitions, then switch legs and perform 10 step ups with your right leg. As you get more experienced with step ups… Try adding extra resistance (by wearing ankle weights) or do more repetitions to build strength in your legs. Try stepping up at a faster rate to improve your cardiovascular fitness.
 
 

8. Swimming

 
Swimming is a gentle, low-impact cardiovascular exercise that gets your entire body moving. The resistance of the water also makes it a great exercise for building strength and getting a full body workout. For the best results, try swimming for at least 30 minutes each session. As your fitness improves, try increasing the intensity at which you swim and extending the length of your swimming sessions.
 

9. Walking

 
If you’re not a fan of cycling or swimming… Walking is a fantastic way to get moving and minimize the severity of your restless leg syndrome. It’s low impact but does a great job of improving your cardiovascular fitness and also allows you to get outside and top up your vitamin D levels. For the best results, try walking for at least 30 minutes each session and extend the length of your walks as your fitness improves.
 

10. Yoga

 
Unlike all the other exercises on this list, yoga tackles restless leg syndrome in two distinct ways. First, the flexibility side of yoga physically relieves the symptoms in a similar way to the stretches discussed above. Secondly, the meditative side of yoga helps reduce your stress levels. Stress is a known trigger for restless leg syndrome. By lowering your stress levels, you can lower the impact of stress on your restless leg syndrome. For the best result with yoga, try joining a class. Not only will this keep you motivated but it will also ensure that you’re practicing yoga regularly.

Summary

 
If you’re suffering from restless leg syndrome and haven’t tried the exercises listed in this article, make sure you do. By simply incorporating these 10 exercises into your workout routine, you can reduce the impact of restless leg syndrome and enjoy a much better quality of life.


What do you think?

Written by Jackie Parker

6 Comments

Leave a Reply
  1. Hi Jackie,
    This is the first time I heard about RLS. Although I do not have this syndrome, I am very glad to learn about it. We never know what comes next, since I am not getting any younger.
    Regardless, the 10 exercises tips you mentioned are good for our overall health.
    Stay Healthy!
    Sharon

  2. Hey Jackie,

    Nice post on exercises for restless leg syndrome. I do a couple of these exercises a week. I usually workout 3 days a week and sometimes I may do 4. I hate doing squats but if it helps with restless leg syndrome then so be it.

    Thank you for the nice informational post. I learned a lot from reading it.

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