Lymphedema is a build-up of lymph fluid in the soft tissues just under your skin. This build-up might cause swelling and discomfort. This can happen anywhere in the body, but it’s most common in the arms and legs.
You can have lymphedema and still have a healthy lifestyle. In fact being fit helps your condition.
Tip #1: Protect your skin. Avoid blood draws and blood pressure measurements in the affected limb if possible. Use a pH neutral moisturizer daily.
Tip #2: Lift weights. It was once thought that lifting heavy weight increases lymphedema, however current research has disproved that theory. The recommendation is to progress weights normally as your body can handle.
Tip #3: Stay hydrated. Proper hydration improves all bodily functions and lymphatic fluid is no exception. Keeping yourself hydrated also helps to protect your skin which is your first line of defense against infection.
Lymphedema exercise guidelines:
Be as fit as possible. Having a lean body mass will improve lymphatic function, as your muscles act as pumps for fluid.
BUT, don’t over do it. Start with low intensity exercise and gradually increase the intensity. Exercise to the point that the affected limb is not fatigued.
Use a compression garment during exercise.