Will excercise and weight reduction affect my RLS symptoms?

Please share your experiences, successes, and failures in using non-drug therapies for RLS/WED (methods of relief that don't involve swallowing or injecting anything), including compression, heat, light, stretches, acupuncture, etc. Also under this heading, medical interventions that don't involve the administration of a medicine to the body (eg. varicose-vein operations, deep-brain stimulation). [This forum contains Topics started prior to 2009 that deal with Non-prescription Medicines, Supplements, & Diet.]
Frunobulax
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Will excercise and weight reduction affect my RLS symptoms?

Postby Frunobulax » Mon Jun 09, 2014 11:35 pm

Hi,

I've found a couple of threads about weight, and I know that Obesity and RLS are correlated. My question is very simple, and wasn't answered: Everybody talks about the correlation between RLS and Obesity. What happens to fat people like me who already have the disease if they lose weight?
More precisely, does a significant, long-term weight reduction achieved by frequent trips to the gym affect the symptoms?

I'm an idiopathic, severe case - my symptoms are not as bad as many of you describe, but they pester me every night basically for the last 8 months. I've changed medications 5 times already, and so far each new medicine has worked just for a few days until it lost efficiency. I'm having trouble going to sleep, I wake up after a few hours, and while I sleep I'm moving my legs a lot. (And yes, my current neurologist is good and a specialist for RLS. Unfortunately some of the previous neurologists weren't.) Predictably I'm getting more and more desperate, since there are significant physical and psychiatric effects. Now, there are a few things I can control without meddling with the medication: (a) I basically stopped drinking alcohol (except for rare occasions) right when the trouble started. (b) I quit smoking a few months ago. (c) Now I'm targeting the weight. I gained some weight when I quit smoking, but had already put on some extra pounds when I was taking Pramipexole and later Gabapentin. At the moment I'm seriously overweight (BMI 32), but I was never really slim. I started to lose some weight by doing a lot of exercise in a gym, combined with better eating habits (aiming for healty protein, low carb, low fat). So far it's working, I lost about 10 pounds over 6 weeks and probably converted some fat into muscle. However, my sleep hasn't gotten better - maybe it even got worse.

Now I know that some people say that heavy exercise can aggrevate RLS symptoms. I can't confirm or deny this so far, because previously, when my medication was still working, I never had trouble sleeping after doing extensive exercising. Also, I found that everything about RLS is long-term and cannot be judged by a few attempts, so I will defer judgement until I kept the pace going for a few months.

More precisely: My plan is to continue extensive exercises and dieting for some time, say at least half a year. Me and my doctor are aiming for a BMI of around 25-27. Has any of you done such a thing, and what were the effects?

Regards, F.

ViewsAskew
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Re: Will excercise and weight reduction affect my RLS sympto

Postby ViewsAskew » Tue Jun 10, 2014 2:11 am

No evidence that I know of that weight loss makes a difference. While obesity and WED are correlated, there is NO evidence that being heavy causes WED. Maybe it's the other way around. We know, for example, that hormones that affect weight gain are altered for the worse with lack of sleep. So, in my mind, it's much more likely that WED causes us to gain weight. Not to mention that when you're anxious because of the WED, you're much more likely to eat a donut than a carrot stick :-). I've been thin, average and fat at different times in my life. I had the WED no matter what. Still do. I've also gone from fat to average, more than once. And from average to fat. Again, no affect on WED.

Have you had your ferritin and hemoglobin tested?

In terms of exercise, there is research to show that moderate exercise does help. Many of us have noted, though I do not think there is research to back it up, that we're much better when we're active, but we're worse when we overdo it. I also find that I'm worse when I first start working out if I've taken a break for awhile. But, once I acclimate, it usually reduces. Well, that was true until it went into hyperdrive - now it doesn't seem to matter. But, for years it did. That said,this is one strange disease - there are few rules that apply to all of us.
Ann - Take what you need, leave the rest

Managing Your RLS

Opinions presented by Discussion Board Moderators are personal in nature and do not, in any way, represent the opinion of the RLS Foundation, and are not medical advice.

Frunobulax
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Re: Will excercise and weight reduction affect my RLS sympto

Postby Frunobulax » Tue Jun 10, 2014 10:52 am

Thanks for the information. Yes, I agree that if there is a cause and effect relation, it is much more likely that RLS increases the risk of being overweight and not the other way around - apart from the general effects of sleep deprivation on eating habits, dopamine deficiencies will cause cravings for sweets and chocolate. And then there are the side effects of the medication, ranging from simple weight gaining (Lyrica/Gabapentin) to impulse control disorders (dopaminergic drugs). On the other hand, both RLS and chocolate cravings may be symptoms of a different disorder that messes with the dopamine balance of the body. But that's something for a different thread :-)

My line of reasoning was this: Since a correlation exists it is natural to question the nature of that correlation, and some people suspect that damages to the spine (or intervertebral discs) may cause RLS. Losing weight helps to reduce the strain on the spine, and moderate weight training helps to improve the stability. Ergo, exercising and losing weight could help some RLS cases. In any case the general advantages of losing weight should outweigh any (hopefully only temporary) negative effects on the RLS symptoms.

I've had my ferritin tested and the levels were fine (~250 ng/ml). Interestingly, my neurologist (who specialises in sleep disorders and treats a lot of severe RLS cases) claims that he has never seen a severe RLS case where iron infusions work, although he admits it might be effective for less severe cases. But I've also heard different opinions on that one. I know another sleep specialist who claims that every RLS patient should take iron infusions, just to check out if it helps with the symptoms. I may try that later, but I'm afraid to tackle the problem from all angles - who can judge if the ferritin infusions lessen my symptoms if I'm changing my medication at the same time? It's probably a moot point since my ferritin level is high.

Regards, F.

ViewsAskew
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Re: Will excercise and weight reduction affect my RLS sympto

Postby ViewsAskew » Tue Jun 10, 2014 1:13 pm

It's always worth trying something. And, as you said, it's always possible something that one of us tries will be key to unlocking this. Or help that person - which is always a good thing, too.

There has been research about cerebrospinal fluid. I had a bad night and my brain is not firing today, so can't remember the details. I do remember us talking about it here on several occasions and it seemed to us that it might have been related to why spinal cord issues resulted in worse WED.

There's still so much we do not know - including about the ferritin. So many opinions when we do not have enough research!
Ann - Take what you need, leave the rest



Managing Your RLS



Opinions presented by Discussion Board Moderators are personal in nature and do not, in any way, represent the opinion of the RLS Foundation, and are not medical advice.

Mark Fan
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Re: Will excercise and weight reduction affect my RLS sympto

Postby Mark Fan » Tue Jun 10, 2014 8:24 pm

My theory is that RLS is caused by inactivity of our toes and front balls of feet, so exercise is the only cure.
It's amazing that they don't know the cause, they don't know the cure, but they dump all kinds of drugs into your mouth.
Try the simple exercise I mentioned in another thread titled "the cause and cure of RLS"

Rustsmith
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Re: Will excercise and weight reduction affect my RLS sympto

Postby Rustsmith » Tue Jun 10, 2014 9:25 pm

Mark, if exercise for the toes and balls of our feet were the fix, then I would be completely immune to WED. :D

I am a competition class runner with a national ranking in my age group. This time of year I train and race in track meets which has me running up on the balls of my feet for as much as a mile at a time (repeated several times in a training session). The balls of my feet are almost always tired and sore from overuse. During the winter I race distances of 10 miles to full marathons. As a result, I am continually having to work to contain the calluses that form on my toes and the balls of my feet. If I stop, I lose flexiblity.

I have not always been a runner and my WED predates when I started. Starting running did nothing for the milder form of WED that I was experiencing at that time.

In spite of all this exercise, I now have severe WED when it is not successfully controlled by medication.

However, as ViewsAskew continually reminds us, we are all different.
Steve

Augmentation Evaluation http://bb.rls.org/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=9005

Opinions presented by Discussion Board Moderators are personal in nature and do not, in any way, represent the opinion of the RLS Foundation, and are not medical advice.

Polar Bear
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Re: Will excercise and weight reduction affect my RLS sympto

Postby Polar Bear » Tue Jun 10, 2014 11:09 pm

With regard to the correlation of RLS/WED and being overweight.....
When my symptoms started some 35 years ago I was slim, fit and pretty active. I have since had the usual spells of slim/average and fat(ter)
Changes in weight have never had an effect on my symptoms one way or the other.
Betty
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Mark Fan
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Re: Will excercise and weight reduction affect my RLS sympto

Postby Mark Fan » Wed Jun 11, 2014 2:05 am

It's sad knowing my discovery wouldn't save the world. Wish you all find your own cure.

ViewsAskew
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Re: Will excercise and weight reduction affect my RLS sympto

Postby ViewsAskew » Wed Jun 11, 2014 2:14 am

Mark Fan wrote:My theory is that RLS is caused by inactivity of our toes and front balls of feet, so exercise is the only cure.
It's amazing that they don't know the cause, they don't know the cure, but they dump all kinds of drugs into your mouth.
Try the simple exercise I mentioned in another thread titled "the cause and cure of RLS"


To me, exercise isn't a cure. A cure means you do it and you never have it again. Exercise is a way to control it. For people who get WED/RLS occasionally and have mild to moderate symptoms, exercise can reduce symptoms, or even keep them at bay. One of the things we suggest to people is that exercise often DOES help and that, along with ferritin levels, a person should try it.

Unfortunately, it doesn't seem to help everyone. Particularly, it seems to help less when the WED is more severe. As Rustsmith noted, some of us are in quite good shape and exercise regularly, yet have regular symptoms. Sure, if I exercise when I have symptoms, the sensations usually stop, but only as long as I keep moving. As soon as I stop, they come back. For me, that is for hours and hours every day. I literally cannot sleep except in bits and pieces - such as falling asleep during a yoga pose.

Speaking for the moderators, we hope that this continues to work for you for a long, long time. And, hopefully it will. We also hope that everyone else who comes here (and those who do not) find a way to manage their symptoms, whether it's exercise, supplements, medications, or anything else that the person finds that works.
Ann - Take what you need, leave the rest



Managing Your RLS



Opinions presented by Discussion Board Moderators are personal in nature and do not, in any way, represent the opinion of the RLS Foundation, and are not medical advice.

badnights
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Re: Will excercise and weight reduction affect my RLS sympto

Postby badnights » Wed Jun 11, 2014 2:17 pm

Since a correlation exists it is natural to question the nature of that correlation, and some people suspect that damages to the spine (or intervertebral discs) may cause RLS. Losing weight helps to reduce the strain on the spine, and moderate weight training helps to improve the stability. Ergo, exercising and losing weight could help some RLS cases. In any case the general advantages of losing weight should outweigh any (hopefully only temporary) negative effects on the RLS symptoms.

I've had my ferritin tested and the levels were fine (~250 ng/ml). Interestingly, my neurologist (who specialises in sleep disorders and treats a lot of severe RLS cases) claims that he has never seen a severe RLS case where iron infusions work, although he admits it might be effective for less severe cases. But I've also heard different opinions on that one. I know another sleep specialist who claims that every RLS patient should take iron infusions, just to check out if it helps with the symptoms. I may try that later, but I'm afraid to tackle the problem from all angles - who can judge if the ferritin infusions lessen my symptoms if I'm changing my medication at the same time? It's probably a moot point since my ferritin level is high.

I started to lose some weight by doing a lot of exercise in a gym, combined with better eating habits (aiming for healty protein, low carb, low fat).

Unfortunately I don't know of anyone whose weight loss has affected their WED/RLS directly. No one seems to have posted here about it yet. Your approach to diet sounds pretty healthy. Try to pack as much nutrition in there as you can - lots of different vegetables, fish, & organ meat to expose yourself to as many different nutrients as possible. I think a correlation with WED/RLS, other than what's been discussed already, might be one of general health - the healthier we are in whatever aspects we can control (nutrition being a big one), the less severe the WED.

Maybe your doctor who has never seen severe RLS/WED alleviated by infusions is aware only of infusions of iron sucrose or other iron compounds that don't work very well for WED/RLS. It is fairly recent (2010ish) that the low molecular-weight iron dextran protocol was developed. (High molecular-weight iron dextran apparently also works but carries a greater risk of anaphylactic shock. LMW iron dextran (aka INFeD) seems to have almost no such risk.)

According to my understanding of Earley during his webinar for the WEDF, it is actually possible that 250 ng is too low for your body.
Beth - Wishing you all restful sleep tonight
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viewtopic.php?f=5&t=6532&p=61601#p61601
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Rcure
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Re: Will excercise and weight reduction affect my RLS symptoms?

Postby Rcure » Sun May 29, 2016 8:19 pm

I had gastric sleeve surgery December 1 2014 I went from 339lbs to 193lbs and my rls has never been worse. I admit that there may be a couple new factors that has caused this worsening but I'm convinced the weight loss doesn't help rls.

jul2873
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Re: Will excercise and weight reduction affect my RLS symptoms?

Postby jul2873 » Mon May 30, 2016 3:16 am

Wow, Rcure, congratulations on such an incredible weight loss!

debbluebird
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Re: Will excercise and weight reduction affect my RLS symptoms?

Postby debbluebird » Mon May 30, 2016 5:00 am

When I started getting my RLS PLMs, I was at a fairly normal size. I was active and always exercised. The thing that I noticed was, I started getting arthritis in my lower back. So it all started about the same time period. As my arthritis increased, I had to just walk, about 3 miles a day. I was taking Mirapex but was keeping my weight down. Then that all ended. Knees fell apart. Then the back. Had surgery on both, not replacements, plus back surgery. I was too young for replacements. The next ten years my arthritis increased. Then it was 100 more pounds. Finally knees replaced, then the hips and finally shoulder. When I was thinner my RLS PLMs was just as bad as with weight gain. Due to meds, depression and decreased exercise. Good luck to you.

Rustsmith
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Re: Will excercise and weight reduction affect my RLS symptoms?

Postby Rustsmith » Mon May 30, 2016 11:13 am

Most of these comments have dealt with weight loss. As for the exercise part of your question, the comments are generally mixed as to whether exercise helps or is a trigger for RLS. Most find that moderate exercise helps, after all walking helps relieve symptoms. Others claim that vigorous exercise can be a trigger. I do not find that either moderate or vigorous exercise has any effect. I am a competitive runner and train almost year round. The only time that I can say that there might be any correlation between the level of exercise and my RLS is when the workout was so intense that the strength in my legs is almost completely wasted. Sometimes I feel something that seems like mild RLS twinges, but that could also be fatigue.
Steve

Augmentation Evaluation http://bb.rls.org/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=9005

Opinions presented by Discussion Board Moderators are personal in nature and do not, in any way, represent the opinion of the RLS Foundation, and are not medical advice.

mh380
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Re: Will excercise and weight reduction affect my RLS symptoms?

Postby mh380 » Mon May 30, 2016 9:49 pm

I have a related question about exercise.
I used to ride my bike for at least 20-30 minutes per day when I got RLS. At that time, I didn't notice whether my symptoms changed when I would go for longer and more strenuous rides. I have since fallen out of the habit, and now I notice my RLS getting significantly worse even when I just go for a short, easy ride (several miles on a mostly flat road) or do some moderately strenuous yoga. Further, these worsening of symptoms can persist for as little as 1-2 days or up to a week. By contrast, I can walk around my (flat) city to my heart's content without making my symptoms noticeably worse. So this makes me think that what is "strenuous exercise" for my RLS is light to moderate exercise by most other standards. Is this at all common among other RLS sufferers? And among people who have decided to exercise in spite of their worsening symptoms, does your body eventually get used to the exercise and return to baseline RLS levels, and if so, how long does it take?


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