Exercise and Edema

It is absolutely essential that you check with your doctor before beginning any exercise program. Many of the problems which result in edema may influence the type or intensity of exercise you can safely do. Always be safe first!

Having said that, most doctors will be overjoyed if you plan to start or increase your exercise regime. Exercise is especially important to most people suffering from peripheral edema because of what is called the muscle pump. This is the action of the muscles against the compression garment which assists in moving the fluid out of the affected limb.

In the rehabilitation center where I worked, exercise in combination with compression therapy was often the key to the reduction of stubborn edemas.

I recently worked with a charming woman in her seventies suffering from swelling in both of her legs that had progressed unchecked to include open and painful wounds which refused to heal. She candidly admitted the most vigorous activity that she had engaged in over the past few years was playing cards.

To start she was only able to do two minutes of light exercise without resting. Four weeks later exercising moderately five times a week she had increased her duration to thirty minutes and more with her legs in her compression garments.

As a result she felt energized, Her wounds had completely healed and she had lost eleven pounds. She considers exercise a miracle and so do I.

Of course taking control like she did is not easy ,but it can be done. Find a partner you can exercise with, start slowly and sensibly working up at your own pace. Set achievable goals and stick with it. It is a small investment in time for huge rewards. Start Today!

Exercise Tips

Try to find a partner to work with at your own fitness level. You are much more likely to exercise with a friend.
Brisk walking is one of the best forms of exercise.

Don’t invest in expensive home gym equipment thinking that it will inspire you. 99% of all home equipment ends up in the closet.

Work up to 30 minutes of exercise daily. You do not need to do it all at once, but try to work up to 10 minutes at a time.

Avoid getting involved in fad schemes for weight loss & exercise. If it sounds too good to be true it is!

Simple is best. There are no short cuts to good results.

How Much is Too Much?

Some of the most frequently asked questions that we get over the phone lines concern the frequency and duration of exercise.

Unfortunately there is not one answer that will cover all ages and fitness levels. Most certainly some form of exercise activity is beneficial to almost everyone.

Thirty minutes of simple aerobic exercise a day will help control weight , improve muscle tone, strengthen bones, reduce stress and anxiety, and decrease the risk for heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, and some types of cancer. Aerobic exercise is movement that causes you to use your heart, lungs, and circulatory system! Boosting your heart and breathing rates allows more oxygen to go to the muscle.

Aerobic exercise draws on fat stores for energy, thereby controlling your weight.

Be cautious. What may seem to be a moderate rate of exercise for one person may be a dangerous amount for another. For some people one to two minutes of walking may be as much as they can safely do. You should be able to carry on a normal conversation as you exercise. Find your safe base and increase the amount of exercise slowly in a sensible manner.

The benefits of exercise for people with edema are miraculous. Imagine having to carry a ten pound bag of potatoes around all day long. Many of us do the equivalent of that and more. It is no wonder we have problems with our knees feet and hips as well.

Once weight is lost activity naturally increases (less potatoes to carry ) and benefits snowball.
Since exercise strengthens the heart and improves blood flow, swelling that is the result of poor circulation can be improved. This is especially true if the patient exercises while wearing their compression garment which causes each movement to pump more blood.

Don’t be discouraged because you can only do a little bit at first. Just try to add one or two minutes more a day. Be persistent and single minded. Remember always check with your doctor before starting any exercise program.

Be safe first.

 John Wellum, CPD

*Important: We are smarter than to try to practice medicine without a license! The information presented on this site is for informational purposes only. New medical information is available weekly - so check with your doctor and therapist before making any changes to your treatment!

 

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