If you experience restless leg syndrome (RLS), you can control your symptoms with a regular exercise regimen that’s not too strenuous. Going to extremes is discouraged: You don’t need to start running marathons, but you also shouldn’t be a couch potato. It’s important to find a healthy balance with your exercise program.

That said, what works for your RLS may not work for someone else’s RLS. Effective exercise regimens can be very individualized. Someone might post online that doing squats and running up and down stairs works for them. Others swear by running in place, and others think that stretching calf muscles is key. It’s wise to try a variety of different exercises to see exactly what works for you.

Here’s more about exercise and RLS as well as a stretching routine to try.

Even though moderate exercise can help you manage your symptoms, most experts agree that strenuous exercise within a few hours of bedtime is a bad idea. Aim for 30-60 minutes of exercise per day, and avoid exercise where your joints ache, as it may worsen your RLS.

Also try adding in gentle activities like yoga, cycling, and swimming a few times a week. Combined with stretching, you may find these activities work well for you.

By contrast, bursts of excessive energy or long sedentary periods may worsen symptoms. Talk to your doctor about an effective exercise plan to manage your symptoms.

Yoga and Pilates

Many experts recommend yoga and Pilates to help with RLS symptoms, but they also advise against extreme types of yoga like Ashtanga, DDP, hot yoga, or any yoga pose that is extremely difficult or that stresses your body.


Cycling is another activity that can calm symptoms. To cycle at a moderate pace, aim for 10 miles per hour or slightly slower.


Swimming or doing water aerobics in a warm pool helps relax your muscles while building strength and improving mobility.

Simple stretching may help stop RLS symptoms in their tracks. Here are a few stretches to help you get started.

Calf stretch

  1. Stretch out your arms so that your palms are flat against a wall and your elbows are nearly straight.
  2. Slightly bend your right knee and step your left leg back a foot or two, positioning its heel and foot flat on the floor. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds.
  3. Next, bend your left knee while keeping your heel and foot flat on the floor. For a deeper stretch, move your foot back a bit farther.
  4. Switch legs and repeat.

Front thigh stretch

  1. Standing parallel to a wall for balance, pull one of your ankles toward your rear while keeping the other leg straight.
  2. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds.
  3. Switch legs and repeat.

Hip flexor stretch

  1. Place the back of a chair against the wall for support and stand facing the chair.
  2. Raise your left foot up and rest it flat on the chair, with your knee bent. (Or try placing your foot on a stair while holding the railing for balance.)
  3. Keeping your spine as neutral as possible, press your pelvis forward gently until you feel a stretch at the top of your right thigh. Your pelvis will move forward only a little.
  4. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds.
  5. Switch legs and repeat.

Gentle to moderate exercise can help with your RLS symptoms. Talk to your doctor about an effective weekly routine that will work best for you. If you’re pregnant, be sure to check with them about safe exercises for you.