Lymphedema and Swimming


Karen holding her book, Lymphedema: Sentenced to Life in Bed, but I Escaped.

For years I’ve been telling people with Leg Lymphedema that the best exercise is swimming. Why? Because your are horizontal, circulating your fluids, and have the gentle compression of the water. And swimming is non-impact. Unlike walking and running which actually cause leg lymphedema to become worse because of all of the pounding/impact and gravity swimming is gentle and effective.

I’ve been dealing with lymphedema since my 1991 cancer surgery. They removed the tumor and the lymph nodes in my groin. Immediately after the surgery my leg was as wide as my waist. I had a tree trunk and a long way to go to reduce it to normal size.

I maintain my leg lymphedema extremely well because I am so disciplined. Quick tips for reducing swelling… elevate, compression, circulation/light exercise, and a very healthy diet of various fruits and vegetables – that’s the secret to reducing the swelling and keeping it down.

What prompted me to write this today? I go all winter long wishing I had access to a pool so I can maintain my lymphedema better. This week the pool opened and I paid for my pool pass. I’ll be able to keep my leg looking and feeling good, hardly any swelling on non-working days. YAY!!!

I swam for the first time this summer yesterday and my leg felt and looked great afterwards. Elevating today and it feels good. Can’t wait to go to ballroom later this evening!

Anyone in NJ with leg lymphedema that wants to talk, meet for a quick swim, or needs a little bit of help just reach out to me. My schedule is very sporadic and constantly changing, but we will connect if you reach out.

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