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Healthy Aging Tips from Sit and Be Fit's Mary Ann Wilson RN

Restless Leg Syndrome

By Mary Ann Wilson, RN

What is Restless Leg Syndrome?
Restless leg syndrome (RLS) is a sleep related phenomenon. About the time you are trying to go to sleep, the legs begin to feel achy and heavy. Some people describe it as a creeping sensation deep in the calves that causes an irresistible urge to move the legs. Moving the legs relieves the discomfort, but often only temporarily. The legs may jerk, interrupting sleep. The discomfort, which can be extreme, may last a few minutes or for hours. The frequency and severity of the restless leg syndrome varies greatly.

What causes Restless Leg Syndrome?
The cause of RLS is unknown. The doctor is usually unable to find anything wrong. The condition has been linked with kidney problems, Parkinson’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, iron deficiency, and diabetes. It tends to run in families, and is more common in women.

What can make Restless Leg Syndrome worse?
• Sitting for long periods
• Cold weather
• Increasing age
• Lack of sleep
• Menopause
• Pregnancy
• Stress
• Alcohol
• Caffeine

What can make Restless Leg Syndrome better?
• Regular exercise, including walking when possible
• Muscle relaxation techniques
• Warm bath before bed
• Weight reduction
• Massaging the legs
• Stress management
• Medications may be prescribed in severe cases
• Dietary supplements including Vitamin E and folic acid may be recommended by your physician

Exercise Recommendations for Restless Leg Syndrome
An active lifestyle including 30 minutes of exercise each day is beneficial for overall health. Three 10 minute exercise sessions throughout the day are almost as effective as one 30 minute session. Walking, circulation exercises, stretching, and relaxation techniques may help relieve the discomfort of RLS.

For additional information about Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS), contact:
RLS Foundation
819 Second Street SW
MN 55902-2985

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Exercises for Restless Leg Syndrome


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