A recent study shows that Aerobic Exercise helps to lessen the effects of Restless Legs Syndrome.
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Progressive aerobic exercise training improves restless legs syndrome (RLS) in hemodialysis patients, researchers from Greece report.
As many as 30% of hemodialysis patients have RLS, but there are limited data regarding non-pharmacological treatment options to reduce symptom severity.
Previous research from the Greek team showed that exercise training could reduce RLS symptom severity by 42%, but it remains unclear whether the improvement in symptoms was due to systemic training effects or simply due to relief conferred by leg movement during the exercise session.
In this study, Dr. Giorgos K. Sakkas from the University of Thessaly in Trikala and colleagues compared the outcomes of progressive exercise training against a no-resistance exercise regimen in a randomized trial of 24 uremic RLS patients.
Exercise training consisted of 46 minutes of cycling on a recumbent cycle ergometer three times a week for six months. Exercise intensity was readjusted every four weeks in the progressive exercise group, whereas resistance was not applied in the control group.
Apart from an improvement in dialysis efficiency with progressive exercise training, none of the basic characteristics of the patients changed after the intervention period.
After six months, the International RLS severity score had dropped by a significant 58% in the group doing progressive exercise. By contrast, the control group saw only an insignificant change of 17%, the researchers reported in Nephrology Dialysis Transplantation online August 8.
The progressive-exercise group also showed significant improvements in sleep quality and depression score, which were absent in the control group.
All three measures (RLS severity, depression score, and daily sleepiness status) were significantly better in the progressive exercise group than in the control group.
“Notably,” the researchers write, “this is the first study to show that some specific exercise-induced adaptations or responses must be responsible for the improvements seen in the RLS severity score and not just leg movement, which we know confers acute relief (as this is the first study to employ an exercise training control group, i.e., exercise with no resistance, and to thus also account for any placebo effect previously unaccounted for in past exercise versus non-exercise studies).”
“Further research is needed in order to clarify the exact mechanism by which systematic exercise training could affect the dopaminergic system of the brain in the hemodialysis patients with RLS,” the investigators conclude.
Limited studies of patients with uremic RLS suggest that it results from pathophysiological changes similar to those in idiopathic RLS. Uremic RLS, however, appears to deteriorate faster and advance to a more severe state and to respond less well to dopaminergic agonists. Exercise has also been shown to improve symptoms of idiopathic RLS.
“Studies are beginning to unravel the intimate relationship between exercise and inflammation. Researchers have observed that aerobic or conditioning exercise significantly reduces pro-inflammatory markers in the body. In one study, moderate exercisers were found to be 15 percent less likely than sedentary individuals to have elevated C-reactive protein levels. In addition, those volunteers who exercised vigorously were 47 percent less likely to have a high C-reactive protein level than their sedentary peers.
In another revealing study, obese men with metabolic syndrome, were placed on a high-fiber, low-fat diet with daily aerobic exercise in a 3-week residential program. After three weeks on the regimen, the study participants experienced significant reductions in body mass index, fasting glucose and insulin, and inflammatory markers. In fact, a startling 9 of the 15 men were no longer positive for metabolic syndrome! Researchers concluded that intensive lifestyle modification of a low-fat, high fiber diet combined with conditioning exercise led to a better balance between inflammatory and anti-inflammatory responses.”
“Study after study (epidemiological and clinical alike) shows that extended exercise programs generally reduce markers of inflammation (like C-reactive protein) over the long-term.”
from “Infection, inflammation and exercise in cystic fibrosis.” by Pauline Barbera van de Weert-van Leeuwen, Hubertus Gerardus Maria Arets, Cornelis Korstiaan van der Ent and Jeffrey Matthijn Beekman. Respiratory Research 2013, 14:32 doi:10.1186/1465-9921-14-32 (6 March 2013).
“There is increasing evidence that exercise can modulate immune function in healthy persons and patients suffering from chronic inflammatory diseases, in an exercise-intensity-dependent fashion, of which patients with CF may also benefit.”
Aerobic exercise lessens RLS. Aerobic exercise lessens inflammation.