Talk Lipoedema

Exercise and lipoedema

Woman with lipoedema practises yoga

Physical activity 

Any increase in movement is good for lipoedema.  It will keep our joints moving, strengthen muscles, improve lymph drainage, help in managing weight, and enhance our confidence and mental health.  Over time, you will find that movement and exercise can improve your posture, walking gait, strength and stamina. Feeling stronger both physically and mentally helps you feel more in control of your own body.

It is important to choose an activity that suits you, and that you enjoy.  This could include regular walking, doing housework, or joining a movement or exercise group.

Always check with your doctor or practitioner before beginning any new exercise program, as they may be able to recommend local groups or suitable activities for you. Your doctor or practitioner may also advise that you wear your compression when exercising; some people even wear an old compression garment when swimming.

  • Walking gives us a whole-body workout and can get you in amongst nature; you might take a quiet stroll, or a hike a longer distance; you may have a local Nordic walking group
  • Swimming or water-based activity is great for lipoedema as the water supports our limbs, takes the strain off our joints, and invigorates our lymphatics; you might even find that you float easily due to the lipoedema fat tissue
  • Dance classes can be fun as the music encourages you to move and lifts your mood
  • Consider gradually building up your strength, using light weights at home or doing basic strengthening exercises: Nuffield easy strengthening exercises
  • Local council or leisure centre groups may offer activities suitable for people who want to gently build movement into their life
  • Consider something new or something you did previously like Pilates, Tai-Chi, rebounding, yoga, or Tripudio, a type of movement to music.
Exercise Ideas from Anezka

Some important advice on physical activity:

Choose something you enjoy: then you are more likely to stick with it

Start small: take a slow and steady approach; start with something that is suitable for you, but make sure you do some physical activity every day

Have courage: we know that going to a class, or getting into a swimming costume or pool can be challenging for people with lipoedema.  Consider joining a same-sex class, or wear leggings in the pool

Be safe: make enquiries about opportunities near you such as swimming pools that have accessible steps and hand-rails; follow advice so you do not over-exercise, or put extra stain on your joints, particularly if you are already hypermobile

Listen to your body: pace yourself; try to avoid overdoing it on good days and then feeling sore or tired the next; if you feel pain, then adjust what you are doing; remember that movement will help to reduce pain in the long term

Focus on the positive: Don’t focus on what you can’t do. Keep a note or diary of what you do each day; you will be surprised at how far you have come

Always love and reassure yourself: people with lipoedema can feel frustrated and overwhelmed by the challenges; avoid being self-critical if you cannot do the same as others around you; feel proud of your achievements.

Dog Walking in Edinburgh

Whatever you choose, remember that there are people out there that can support you with your physical activity plans.  Other people with lipoedema might even want to join you, so talk to others on our online pages, or events to see if you have local support.