Some forms of exercise can make restless legs worse

Make sure your exercise routine is not making your restless legs worse

Sports and exercise are often recommended to help the body sleep.  But some forms of exercise put pressure on the body and make restless legs worse. 

What aggravates your restless legs? Is it worse when you’ve been on your feet all day or gone for a run? This is another area where you have to be a good detective to work out how to help yourself.


Are you doing the right exercise for you?

I know that I have major discomfort in my legs even if I jog a few kilometres in great shoes, and it won’t just be that night, but I’ll be kept awake for 3-4 nights and sometimes longer. This led to me giving up running, which was sad for me – I would love to go running.  But I’ve decided that sleeping is more important, so I’ve found other types of exercise to keep fit.

If you’re unsure whether your preferred exercise is aggravating your restless legs, I suggest stopping it all together for 2-3 weeks and see if you notice any changes. I know that seems a long time, but in my experience, it takes a while for our legs to feel better.

Some exercises are going to be more jarring than others. If you feel that exercise exacerbates your restless legs, consider switching to a lower impact exercise. For example, from running to cycling, swimming or a weights-based programme.


Changing your running style might help

If you want to continue running, you could explore changing the way you run, so you land with less force. Usually this is by increasing your cadence, (the number of steps you take in a minute) and decreasing the length of your stride.  A running specialist will be able to analyse the way you move and make suggestions for how you can minimise the impact on your legs so running is less taxing.



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