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Maintaining the health of the lymphatic system following cancer treatment is one way to reduce the risk of lymphedema. Jeannette Zucker, a physical therapist and lymphedema specialist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, discusses how exercise plays an important role in the prevention of lymphedema.
Let’s talk about exercise. When you are exercising, you are increasing blood flow and that would increase how much fluid is being brought into your tissues. However, with exercise, you are also increasing the lymphatic return. The way that this happens is when your muscles are being used during an exercise it is usually surrounding blood vessels, veins most importantly.
When they enlarge, they press the veins of the walls together and they give the support that they need to basically bring your blood back up to your lungs more quickly and more efficiently.
The veins are responsible for reabsorbing 85 percent of this fluid. By helping your blood flow return to the veins more efficiently, you are decreasing the amount of work that the lymphatic system is doing.
With general exercise, you are increasing how often the pumps of each functional unit in the lymphatic system is occurring…
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