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Moderate exercise helps ease restless legs symptoms.

ORLANDO, FLA. -- Consistent, moderate exercise can significantly improve the severity of restless legs syndrome symptoms without medication, a study has shown.

Despite evidence that lifestyle factors play an important role in RLS, "virtually all research studies have focused on pharmacologic therapies," Fred Tudiver, M.D., said at the annual meeting of the North American Primary Care Research Group.

Dr. Tudiver and colleagues at East Tennessee State University in Johnson City randomized 11 of 28 patients to a reconditioning exercise program; the remaining 17 received no intervention. The intervention included 12 weeks of light- to moderate-intensity aerobic and muscular strength training three times per week.

Patients in the study--all of whom were at least 18 years old (average age 53) and had a diagnosis of RLS--were recruited from a community-based family medicine teaching center and a hospital-based wellness center. Exclusion criteria were anemia, any orthopedic condition that limited ambulation, any coronary event in the previous 6 months, uncontrolled hypertension, and current use of medication for RLS.

Before and after the intervention, all patients completed the International Restless Legs Syndrome Study Group Rating Scale, a 10-item questionnaire designed to assess symptom frequency and severity on a scale of 0-40.

At baseline, patients in both groups did not differ significantly in their RLS severity scores. Following the 12-week intervention, however, median scores for patients in the exercise group had improved from 20.6 to 13.1, while median scores for patients in the control group scores went from 22.5 to 21.5.

Further studies are needed to determine the optimal frequency and type of exercise for RLS patients, as well as the possible role of concurrent pharmacotherapy for severe forms of the condition, he said.


New England Bureau
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Title Annotation:Clinical Rounds
Author:Mahoney, Diana
Publication:OB GYN News
Date:Apr 15, 2005
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