What can you do?

EveryBodyCan – The British Lymphology Society (BLS) awareness campaign for 2020

The British Lymphology Society (BLS) awareness campaign for 2020 is EveryBodyCan. This exciting initiative aims to encourage those with, or at risk of, lymphoedema to be more active. The campaign provides advice, tips, suggestions and useful links that health professionals can use to support their patients in overcoming anxieties about activity in general or in relation to any specific activities. Recognising that individuals with lymphoedema may have physical limitations, the campaign is all about showing that there are many options to suit different levels of fitness, and so everybody can do something to help their lymphatic system work more effectively, be actively involved in managing their lymphoedema and reduce the risk of complications.

An overview of the campaign, written by Margaret Sneddon, has been published in the British Journal of Community Nursing, February 2020, Vol 25. No2. There are many key organisations are partners in the EveryBodyCan campaign. Some of these include the Royal College of Nursing, Chartered Society of Physiotherapists, Royal College of General Practitioners, Lymphoedema support Network, Macmillan Cancer Support and Community Leisure UK.

Why those with lymphoedema may avoid activity

This article describes four main reasons why people with, or at risk of, lymphoedema or chronic oedema may be inactive:

  1. Fear that activity, or certain types of activity or exercise, may cause lymphoedema or make existing lymphoedema worse. This is fairly common in those who have developed lymphoedema following cancer treatment, partly arising from advice to be cautious and limit some movements immediately after such treatment. However, these restrictions are temporary, and every effort should be made to regain full function; gradually increase range of movement, flexibility and muscle strength; and to improve the capacity and functioning of the lymphatic system (BLS, 2019)
  2. Having limited activity, or limiting certain types of activity, leads to weakened muscles and stiffened joints, causing discomfort, especially if new activity is attempted
  3. The presence of lymphoedema may cause discomfort and heaviness in the affected area, making some movements awkward or more challenging
  4. The swelling caused by lymphoedema may cause the person to be very self-conscious about taking part in activities that reveal the affected area, for example, swimming or going to a gym.

As described in the article there are some points to consider to make sure any activity works best for each individual, but the good news is that inactivity is the enemy when it comes to lymphoedema, and any activity enjoyed is likely to benefit the lymphatic system if a few simple principles are followed, for example, taking it easy, starting slowly and monitoring breathing and building up very gradually. Effects should be monitored and, if there are problems or an increase in swelling lasting more than 24 hours, the activity should be reduced or temporarily stopped until the issue is resolved. Whatever the activity, it should be undertaken regularly. If there is a prolonged period of inactivity, it should be restarted very slowly (BLS, 2020).


The British Lymphology Society has excellent resources including:

For more information on the campaign go to https://www.thebls.com/pages/everybodycan

Wearing a pedometer is an effective motivator to encourage you to get up and get active

Exercise and Physical Activity – Every Minute Counts!

Pedometers available from Lymphactive

Easy to use
Keeping track of your steps with Lymphactive Pedometer is simple and manageable. Just clip it on your waist and go.

Walking tips

Read some great tips to help get your clients walking with a downloadable flyer on walking benefits and tips to distribute to your clients – https://lymphoedemaeducation.com.au/2017/03/staying-active-lets-go-walking/

Counting every step you take
The Lymphactive Pedometer is a great way to record your steps and keep you motivated.