Association between physical activity and Nocturnal Leg Cramps in patients over 60 years old: a case-control study

Sci Rep. 2020 Feb 14;10(1):2638. doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-59312-9.


Nocturnal Legs Cramps are a frequent disorder, which have a negative impact on quality of life, particularly among patients over 60 years old. Lifestyle factors such as alcohol consumption have been shown to be associated with Nocturnal Leg Cramps. This study aimed to explore the association between nocturnal leg cramps and a sedentary lifestyle among elderly patients. A case-control study was conducted with a Bayesian approach for sensitivity analysis. Patients over 60 years old consulting their family doctor were recruited in the Alsace region, France. Cases were matched with controls free from cramps for age, sex, medical history and medications known to trigger cramps. The level of physical activity was assessed using the Dijon Physical Activity Score (DPAS). We performed univariate and multivariate analyses adjusting for alcohol consumption. 272 participants were matched into 136 pairs. 11% of all were sedentary persons. Adjusting for alcohol consumption, we observed an association between Nocturnal Leg Cramps and a sedentary lifestyle OR = 9.84 (95% credibility interval [1.74; 101.9]; posterior probability 99.68%). Our findings represent an additional argument to promote physical activity to patients over 60 years old. They also highlight the need to develop and evaluate physical activity interventions in the treatment of Nocturnal Legs Cramps.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Alcohol Drinking / epidemiology
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Exercise
  • Female
  • France / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Life Style
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Sedentary Behavior
  • Sleep-Wake Transition Disorders / epidemiology*