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Primary & Secondary Lymphoedema Online & in the Community


One of the best things I have ever been taught since developing Lymphoedema is the art of deep breathing exercises.  This has helped me greatly so much so as an Asthmatic I have been able to dump my inhalers.

Not only does it help in opening up the Lymphatic system it has helped with relaxation.  

One of my favourite breathing exercises is "blowing bubbles". Who would have thought as a senior I would be using the bubbles I buy for my grandchildren as a way of practising deep breathing. Lots of fun. 

Hope these videos which you will find on You Tube, will help your breathing and open up your lymphatic's.


Pretending to blow out candles is also a very good deep breathing exercise. 





Healthy Steps

Healthy Steps, moving to a better health with the Lebed Method.

The Healthy Steps programme is designed to maximise participation and activity. Healthy Steps is fun and easy to do, and no special abilities are required.  The aim of the Healthy Steps programme are slow, smooth movements which open up the lymphatic system.

Healthy Steps is for anyone with:

  • Breast Cancer, or other forms of cancer
  • Lymphoedema
  • Arthritis
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Parkinson's
  • Frozen Shoulder
  • Other chronic and debilitating condition

The above photograph was taken on Monday 11th November 2013 and was our 1st Healthy Steps class taken at the Mary Ann Evans Hospice.  Each exercise is designed to improve and manage our Lymphoedema.   I would like to thank Karen and Nicky for making the sessions so enjoyable and for putting us gently through our paces, I personally have found the sessions great fun and very beneficial.


Deep Breathing Exercises

The above poster was found on


Breathing Rhythm

Click on the picture above that I found on You Tube, it will help you find a rhythm.


Exercise on Prescription

If you haven't exercised for a long time, please ask your GP about exercise on prescription.  GP's across the UK can prescribe exercise as a treatment for a range of conditions, including depression.

Exercise programmes last for around 6 weeks and sometimes can be extended for a further 6 weeks.  It might be the motivation you are looking for to get you started.

This could be a new beginning, meeting new people especially if you can make it a social event.

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The most positive aspect to come from having Lymphoedema for me personally is our Healthy Steps class.  It is great fun, with fellow "lymphies" and the exercises are organised to help us manage our lymphoedema.

The group I attend at MAEH,  has a great laugh and laughing is good for you.  We support each other, it helps greatly with our movement and I am sure we all leave the class feeling good.  I know I do. 

Importantly many of us have become friends because we all have lymphoedema, we have a better understanding of each other.

Importance of Exercise

Exercise helps move the lymph fluid around your body.  The lymphatic system does not have its own pump.  The only way to stop it stagnating and causing problems is to keep the fluid moving.

I personally have found the breathing exercises have been very beneficial especially as I am asthmatic.  As the exercises are relatively easy I often find now that I do them automatically at home especially as they are done to music. When a certain song is being played I often find myself dancing along and exercising without realising. This can also happen when I am shopping much to the amusement of shop staff!!

These exercises are designed to do at your own pace and level.  In the beginning only do what you feel able to do.  When you feel more confident you can increase the amount you do.  Use your favourite music to help with your exercise as this will also help towards you feeling good.  Make sure you drink water in between each different exercises.  Always warm up first and cool down at the end of your routine.  I use the Lebed Method as this was designed for those who have Lymphoedema.  All these exercises you can find on YouTube.


The most important part of any exercise is the warm up, these exercises prepare your body in a gentle way and are the first exercises undertaken as part of the Healthy Steps programme. 

Useful tips

  • Swimming and water exercise is very helpful
  • Yoga encourages you to stretch and relax and also to breathe correctly
  • Allow time to stretch all your muscles in your warm up and cool down sessions and include breathing exercises
  • Avoid using a sauna after exercise as this may cause the swelling to increase
  • Several people I know have found singing lessons to be beneficial 
  • Take a water breaks before moving on to other exercises.  I can't emphasise enough the importance of drinking water. Water helps the lymph fluid flow and stops it stagnating.  This will prevent any blockages and help to protect you from infection.
  • Avoid over exerting yourself to prevent fatigue

Neck Tilts

Stand with legs hip width apart, relax your body.

Neck Tilts - Head facing in front, tilt head forward, chin to chest,  x 2.                      

Head facing forward, tilt head to right to the right, ear to shoulder x 2.                        

Head facing forward, tilt head to the left, ear to shoulder x 2

Neck tilts shown in video 2.

Head Turns

Head turns - Head facing to the right shoulder turn head to the left, then to the right x 2. 

Head roll - Head to the right side, roll down to your chest and across to your left side x 2 

Head turns shown in video 3.


Stand with legs hip width apart, relax your body.

Shoulder shrugs - Raise your right shoulder to your right ear and back down x 2.  

Raise your left shoulder to your left ear and back down x 2                             

Raise both your shoulders to your ears and back down x 2

Shoulder rolls - Place both your hands on your shoulders; circle your right shoulder x 2 repeat with your left shoulder x 2.  Circle both your shoulders x 2

Both shoulder shrugs and shoulder rolls video 4.

The above exercises are particularly useful to keep your shoulder joints mobile and to prevent stiffness.  Each needs to be performed slowly and repeated x 2.  You can then build up repetitions to 5. 

Fridge reach

Fridge reach - stand with your right arm out, push to the side x 4 relax.  Repeat left side.

Blow the candle - Stand with your finger out to the front, take a deep breath and blow x 2

Tree hug - Stand with both arms out to the side, take a deep breath in and bring your hands together whilst breathing out x 2

Fridge reach and blow the candle video 5.

Head and Neck Exercise

Swelling for head and neck muscles can also be reduced through exercise.  Everyday we all change our facial expressions.  Use these changes as part of your exercise routine.

  • chewing
  • frowning
  • smiling
  • yawning

You can do this in front of a mirror at any time of day.  I found this poster on Pinterest.


Take a look at our Pinterest page;


The following exercises use the muscles in your swollen arm and stimulate lymph drainage.  In between each set of exercises, gently shake your arms and hands, this helps to loosen the muscles and helps you relax.

  1. Elbow bend - Bend your arm at the elbow, then straighten it slowly.  If your arm is heavy rest it on a table.
  2. Wrist exercise - Bend and stretch your hand at the wrist so that your finger tips point to the ceiling and then to the floor.
  3. Clenched fist - Slowly spread out your fingers and hold for the count of 5, then make a fist whilst resting your elbow on a flat surface.
  4. Fingers - With your right hand touch your index finger to your thumb, repeat with each of your fingers through to your little finger.  Change to your left hand and fingers.  Finally repeat using both hands.   
  5. Large Circles - Draw a circle clockwise with your right arm x 2.  Repeat anti clockwise x 2.  Repeat with your left arm.

Leg Exercises

In the right hand column you will find exercises suitable for leg lymphoedema.  All these exercises can be performed either by sitting or standing.  You can even do these exercises from a wheelchair.  If you are standing use a chair to help with balance and also so that you can sit and take a rest. 

These exercises are designed to do at your own pace and level.  In the beginning only do what you feel able to do.  When you feel more confident you can increase the amount you do.  Use your favourite music to help with your exercise as this will also help towards you feeling good.  Make sure you drink water in between each different exercises.  Always warm up first and cool down at the end of your routine.  I use the Lebed Method as this was designed for those who have Lymphoedema.  All these exercises you can find on YouTube.

Ballet Bends - Stand with both your arms out to the side. Bend your knees and bring your arms down and up over your head x 3.  On the third bend, hold your arms up to the ceiling clasp your hands together and push up to the ceiling x 4

March - Using a chair for support, lift your right leg and hold for a few seconds x 2. Repeat with your left leg x 2

Genital Exercises

This is one of those subjects that those living with Genital Lymphoedema find hard to discuss.

Pelvic floor and tummy exercises can help to control your lymphoedema.  These exercises help to drain the lymph fluid into the lymphatic system in the abdomen.

Ask your lymphoedema nurse to show you how or alternatively there are pelvic floor exercises on You Tube.




Leg Exercise Videos



One of terms I have come across many times during this journey of having cancer and lymphoedema is "Chemo Brain".    Now I was fortunate enough not to have chemotherapy but I did have radiotherapy.  There are many of my online members that are on various medications that members believe are also not helping there thinking processes. 

Even if you don't have a direct link to your cancer treatment as we get old "Senior Moments" become more frequent. 

Sticking with the Lebed Method there are three very good, fun exercises all on You Tube which I am also uploading here.  Have fun.


Reduce Swelling

You can reduce your swelling whilst doing your daily activities:

  • Wear your compression hosiery when you undertake any form of exercise, so that the muscles can work more effectively.
  • Ease off any activity when you start to feel uncomfortable or tired.
  • Avoid activities where you hold your limb in the same position for any length of time, this may increase your swelling.
  • Breathing exercises are useful for deep lymphatic drainage; they use the diaphragm to help pump the lymph so that it can drain away.
  • Remember to take water breaks and be prepared to "pee" more.

Staying Active

It is important to stay active as possible when you have lymphoedema.  Lymph flow depends on the muscles working like a pump to encourage drainage and prevent fluid from accumulating in your tissue.  Therefore, the exercises we do in Healthy Steps are low impact but we exercise all our limbs. 

Please remember that many of the Healthy Steps movements can be done sitting down.  This is a great help to me when I have problems with standing and leg movement.

Other exercises include;

  • light aerobics
  • ballet
  • cycling
  • swimming
  • tai chi
  • walking
  • yoga

L-W-O members, do horse riding, and various boating exercises.

There is a very good website all about walking in groups, take a look at;

No recent exercise

Everyone has a different level of fitness and ability to exercise and it is important to find the right balance of exercise that suits you.  If you are returning to exercise that you have not done for some time, start with a short session and build up regularly.

Remember to do warm up exercises and at the end of your exercise have a cool down session.

LSN Exercise Leaflet

July 2014 LSN have published a leaflet on Exercise.  The leaflet is free to all LSN members. You can order a copy via Tel: 020 7351 4480

In brief here are their exercise recommendations:

  • swimming
  • water activities
  • aqua aerobics

Your limb in water is supported and it is not necessary to wear your garment.  Breast stroke is a good gentle exercise.  Start your exercise slowly and build your strength each time you go.

Aqua exercises build slowly, keeping your limb in the water for support.  Using floats you can build resistance.

Listen to your body it will tell you if your are overdoing things.


When leaving the pool shower thoroughly to remove all the chlorine from your skin.  Then make sure you dry yourself thoroughly.  Put on your garment as soon as you can after leaving the pool.    Moisturise your skin as soon as possible.

Protect your feet, in the pool, poolside, changing areas.  A slither of glass that the eye cannot see can cause serious damage.  Keeping you feet covered will reduce the risk of fungal infections like athlete's foot.

Make sure you carry a tube of antiseptic cream in case of emergencies.

Page last updated 02/10/2016