In these times of social distancing and self-isolating you might find that you are not exercising or moving as much as you usually do. You may be adjusting to working from home and moving even less, but no matter how tedious it might be exercise is an essential part of keeping your lymphoedema in check.

It is so easy to forget to exercise. We’re all guilty of it. Our day starts with good intentions and before we know it – it’s over and we haven’t moved our body as much as required.

The fact is we all get busy and unfortunately all too often we put our own health and well-being on the back burner.

The best way to overcome this is by planning a set time for exercise into your day. Depending on whether you are a morning or an afternoon person – try making an appointment with yourself.

So let’s get started

Remember it’s important to exercise your whole body, but take into account your age and ability whatever you decide to do. It’s important to consider your safety and start slowly.

You can start with as little as 5-10 minutes of exercise, building up to 30 minutes if you can. Maybe start by putting on some exercise clothes and shoes that are comfortable, this might even help you to feel motivated.

Dig out the exercises provided by your lymphoedema therapist or try these exercises from the Cancer Research UK website which have been developed specifically for lymphoedema:

  • Deep Breathing
  • Arm Exercises
  • Leg Exercises
  • Head and Neck

Working from home

If you work from home or are spending extra time at the computer, it is very important to ensure that your workstation is set up as well as possible. Neck pain can start if your computer screen is too high. You should stop at least every hour – stand up, stretch and do some exercises or at least take a few deep breaths.

Perhaps go for a walk through your house/unit or take a walk around the outside of your house. It will refresh you, and you will be more alert to continue working.

How to workout at home

Make yourself some weights. Use a water bottle or a tin of whatever you have in your pantry (you guessed right – tomatoes!) or fill an empty milk bottle with soil, sand, gravel (or rice if you can get it!).

You can exercise while you wait for the kettle to boil. Try holding onto the bench top and shifting your weight from side to side, go on your tippy toes. Now reach up with one arm to the ceiling and then with the other. Are you confident to stay on one leg? You have the bench top there to stabilise you so lift up one knee towards your chest and then the other. You can also do these exercises while sitting on a chair.

Do you have stairs in your house? Start climbing! Try standing up and then sitting down from a chair several times. To make it a bit harder, try not using the arms of the chair if it is safe for you.

The great outdoors

Start walking a short distance, go up a small hill (if you are living in an area which is hilly). With life slowing down due to COVID- 19 you may have a bit more time now for your garden. We can get a lot of incidental movement at home by pottering around in the garden. Even heading out to the washing line counts as incidental outdoor exercise.

How much exercise do we need?

We should all be aiming for 150 minutes of exercise per week and that should include 2-3 weight sessions. However, it is important to start slowly. Remember, something is better than nothing. The secret is to exercise safely and gradually increase the duration.

The final word

In the end to manage your lymphoedema it’s necessary to just keep moving! However, exercise isn’t just a benefit for our bodies and our lymphatic system, it is also very important for our mental health.

Have you discovered a way to exercise at home or a tip on how to stay consistent with maintaining your exercise? If so, please share by leaving a comment. At LAQ we all learn from and support each other.

Lymphoedema Association of Queensland (LAQ) was founded in 1989 with the aim of raising awareness of the condition. A membership-based organisation, LAQ is the trusted resource those with lymphoedema turn to for support when seeking to achieve a better quality of life. Join the LAQ Community and become a Member today!

General Advice Warning: This blog is not designed to replace professional advice. It has been prepared without taking into account your medical situation or needs. You should consider the appropriateness of the advice, in light of your own health objectives and needs before making any decision as to what is appropriate for you.