A recent study examined the effect of water versus land exercise in improving lymphedema. Eighty-eight eligible patients with secondary lymphedema after breast or gynecological cancer participated in this controlled clinical intervention study. Patients participated in either a water-based or land-based exercise program. Researchers measured subject’s arm volume, as well as BMI, function, well-being and body image.

In patients who participated in water exercises, more women had reduced arm limb volume and there were also significant improvements for these women in lower BMI and decreased self-reported frequency of swelling. Women with arm lymphedema in the land exercise group showed more improvement in upper extremity function and range of motion. Researchers conclude that water exercise may be offered to patients when the goal is to reduced lymphedema while to improve daily shoulder function, land exercises are preferred.

Your TurningPoint physical therapist can help you develop an exercise plan that is designed specifically to help meet your unique goals.

Lindquist H et al. Water exercise compared to land exercise or standard care in female cancer survivors with secondary lymphedema. Lymphology. 2015 Jun;48(2):64-79.