Exercise & Lymphedema

exercise and lymphedemaWANT TO MOVE YOUR LYMPH? MOVE YOUR BODY!

Exercise not only helps move lymphatic fluid through our lymph system, but it has many other benefits too. When we move our bodies, we activate our muscles, which helps our lymphatic system become much more effective in removing waste from our bodies. Do you enjoy rocking in a rocking chair or taking a stroll through the park? Even simple movements such as this help to move lymph. Exercise has proven to be very beneficial for those dealing with lymphedema. 


If you’ve been undergoing lymphedema treatment from a physical therapist, they’ll likely have given you some exercises. But don’t stop there! lymphedema exerciseLymphedema is a chronic condition. Therefore, the activities are still necessary even after therapy has stopped. While exercises aim to target specific problem areas, plenty of general exercises are beneficial too. These should include stretching for better range, strength training, and aerobic exercise – all of which should be low-intensity and pain-free. In addition, swimming, walking, rebounding, and gentle yoga are great general exercises for moving and managing your lymphedema. 

If exercise is not within your ability at this time, you can always practice deep diaphragmatic breathing. Deep breathing is one of the simplest and most effective ways to move lymphatic fluid through your lymphatic system. 

donning gloves for compression stockingsWEARING COMPRESSION GARMENTS WHILE EXERCISING 

Don’t forget to keep your compression garments on while exercising. These garments help reduce swelling by allowing lymph fluid to move more efficiently. However, someone with lymphedema can sometimes perform water exercises without the garments. Therefore, pay attention to your swelling levels with and without the garments to determine if you need them in the water. 

Why is it essential to wear compression while exercising? Compression garments increase the efficiency of the muscles to move the fluid from the limb(s). Without the reduction, the increased circulation and increased production of lymph fluid can collect in the swollen areas.

STARTING RIGHT exercise lymphedema

Before you start your exercise regimen, get approval from your doctor or physical therapist. Should you experience worsening of your lymphedema, discontinue the exercises and seek professional advice immediately. 

Your therapist is an excellent resource if you need help beginning an exercise program. In addition, educational resources such as Sigvaris- Exercise and Lymphedema mini webinar can help you incorporate exercise into your treatment program.

Yes, exercise benefits lymphedema and your overall health and well-being too! So go on, take some time to move, and get creative! Practicing self-care is essential when living with a chronic disease like lymphedema. 

lymphedema exerciseFor further information about lymphedema and exercise, check out the following links: Lymphedema and Exercise FAQs and Managing Lymphoedema with Exercise

Disclaimer – This blog is for general information purposes only. Furthermore, the information contained in this blog is not a substitute for medical advice – always consult a licensed healthcare professional for advice on your specific condition.

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