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Effect of exercise training and dopamine agonists in patients with uremic restless legs syndrome: A six-month randomized, partially double-blind, placebo-controlled comparative studyBackground: Restless Legs Syndrome is very common in hemodialysis patients however there are no comparative studies assessing the effectiveness of a non-pharmacological treatment to a classical treatment on parameters related to syndromes' severity and quality of life. Methods. In this randomized, partially double blind, placebo controlled trial, thirty two hemodialysis patients with restless legs syndrome were randomly assigned into three groups: 1) the exercise training group (N = 16), 2) the dopamine agonists group (ropinirole 0.25 mg/d) (N = 8) and 3) the placebo group (N = 8). The intervention programs lasted 6 months. Restless Legs Syndrome severity was assessed using the international severity scale, physical performance by a battery of tests, muscle size and composition by computed tomography, body composition by Dual Energy X Ray Absorptiometry, while depression score, sleep quality, daily sleepiness and quality of life were assessed through questionnaires. Results: Exercise training and dopamine agonists were effective in reducing syndrome's symptoms by 46% (P = 0.009) and 54% (P = 0.001) respectively. Within group changes revealed that both approaches significantly improved quality of life (P < 0.05), however, only the dopamine agonists significantly improved sleep quality (P = 0.009). Within group changes showed a tendency for lean body mass improvements with dopamine agonists, this reached statistical significance only with the exercise training (P = 0.014), which also reduced fat infiltration in muscles (P = 0.044) and improved physical performance (P > 0.05) in various tests. Between group changes detect significant improvements with both exercise and dopamine agonists in depression score (P = 0.003), while only the dopamine agonist treatment was able to significantly improve sleep quality, compared to exercise and placebo (P = 0.016). Conclusions: A 6-month exercise training regime was as effective as a 6-month low dosage dopamine agonist treatment in reducing restless legs syndrome symptoms and improving depression score in uremic patients. Further research is needed in order to show whether a combination treatment could be more beneficial for the amelioration of RLS. Trial registration. NCT00942253. © 2013 Giannaki et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.