Exercising at risk arm

Hi ladies. Looking for a bit of advice. I’ve been told by my bcn not to use my left arm for any heavy lifting, not even a bag of shopping,in case I develop lymphedema. However, I recently joined a gym (for the first time in my entire life!!) and the instructor is trying to develop a programme for me. He asked about what I can and can’t do with my left arm and I said not much but it got me thinking so I did a bit of googling. Some of the advice from the lymphedema support network suggest exercise can be good for moving lymph fluid around the body and can reduce the risk of developing lymphedema so I’m confused!

Can I ask what advice you ladies have been given and what you do when you’re exercising. I had full nose clearance.

Thanks so much and hope you are all keeping well.

Hazel x

Hi Hazelb27

While you are waiting for some replies from other members, I’ve attached a link to our publication which I thought may be helpful.  There is some information about exercise on Page 19.


Very best wishes


BCC Moderator

Thank you Janet. I will have a look at the link.




I had my lymph nodes removed and have mild lymphodema you shouldnt carry heavy shoping bas and such as many people when they do that carry them on their arm and your putting pressure on the arm with the straps. I have seen reports on the internet that actually suggest that light weight training is actually beneficial for preventing it. I personally keep up my stretching exercises for the arm that I was taught after my surgery and do light lifting during exercise and doesnt seem to flair it up


Hi hazel, I have had ANC on both sides (2003 and 2023). I have mild lymphodema in hand and arm on the most recent side. However, I exercise regularly at the gym and do ‘body pump’ 2-3 times a week. I find it helps. My lymphodema nurse has echoed the advice about exercise being good to assist drainage but it’s a balance in building it up and what your body has done before .

Thanks you so much ladies. I’m going to try some light weights and just build up gradually from there. Thanks again.


Thanks Gilly. They run a few classes at the gym and I know one is Pilates so I’ll sign up for that too I’ll also try some weights but start low.

Thanks again for all of your posts ladies. It’s really helped me.