Easy exercises to help lymph circulation
By Louise Belle BHSc (Nut Med)
Lack of exercise or movement in general can slow the flow of lymphatic fluid and result in stagnation or even swelling in the limbs. When you exercise, your muscles contract and stimulate the lymph nodes and vessels to move lymphatic fluid along to be filtered or drained. A common excuse for not engaging in regular exercise is “I just don’t have time”. If you are working in an industry where you are on your feet all day, lifting heavy objects or moving a lot in general, not dedicating specific time to exercise is less of an issue. The problem lies with the great majority of the population who are in sedentary jobs, spending the vast majority of their day sitting at a desk. The good news is, there are simple exercises you can do almost anywhere- even at your desk!
Stretching is incredibly beneficial for your entire body! Sitting all the time can cause your muscles to become tight and your lymph fluid to become stagnant. Stretching can very easily be done at work while proof reading a document or while talking on the phone. Stretch out your neck, arms, legs and hips a few times a day- it will leave you feeling more energised!
2. Deep breathing
Lymph vessels line the respiratory system as it is exposed to pathogens (such as bacteria) from the air we breathe. The lymphatic system needs to attack these pathogens and filter them out of the body. Shallow breathing can cause stagnant air and lack of lymph flow. Breathe in really deep, hold your breath and release. Repeat this at least 5 times in a row, once or twice daily. Deep breathing is also a great form of stress relief so it’s a win win!
3. Stand and walk
Park your car down the street or take the long way to get some extra steps in! A good aim is to walk 10,000 steps a day- this will get your lymphatic fluid moving. Stand and walk around at every opportunity for as long as you can. Make sure you stand at least once an hour and give your body a little jiggle. When you’re at work take the opportunity to walk to someone’s desk instead of sending an email, stand whilst on a long phone call or put documents out of arms reach so you need to stand up to get them. Every bit counts!
4. High knees
Now I don’t mean that you should start running around with your knees up – especially whilst you’re at work! Simply standing up and bending and straightening your knees will assist with lymphatic movement. This exercise is particularly beneficial for those who get swollen or puffy legs, ankles or feet. You can even do a version of this whilst sitting at your desk, simply bending and straightening your legs. Do this regularly throughout the day to keep your leg muscles active and to stop fluid from pooling.
5. Arm raises and fist clenches
Raising your arms above your head at regular intervals will help to stop lymphatic fluid from pooling in your arms, hands and fingers. You can slowly raise and lower them, or punch one arm at a time towards the roof. You can even do this with weights, or a 1L drink bottle filled with water if you’re at work! Clenching your fists then straightening your fingers is also very beneficial.
Bouncing up and down is another great way to stimulate the lymphatic system and get the lymphatic fluid flowing. You can bounce on the spot from one leg to another or bounce on a mini trampoline. You can easily bounce your legs up and down whilst sitting at your desk also!
There you have it! 6 really simple exercises that you can do at any time of the day (even at your desk) that take no time at all and minimal effort. Magnesium is great for muscle health, reducing cramps and spasms and also helps to reduce stress levels!