At OHI, we pay A LOT of attention to the lymphatic system. A peak functioning lymphatic system is the very foundation of good health, but this critically important part of the body is one that most people don’t know much about.
The lymphatic system is the largest circulatory system in the body, and is your built-in sanitation center that carries away and filters out poisonous waste products from every cell, tissue, and organ. It is a complex network of vessels that branch through all parts of the body, able to collect extra lymph fluid from body tissues and return it to the blood. It is also an essential part of the immune system that maintains fluid levels, fights infection, and produces disease-fighting white blood cells. It is the first line of defense against disease, where the network of vessels and nodes transports and filters lymph fluid containing antibodies and lymphocytes (good) and bacteria (bad).
With lymphatic congestion the lymph is not flowing well, cells are poisoned from their own waste, and the lymph fluid becomes a toxic cesspool, resulting in fatigue, swelling, infection, inflammation, disease, and more.
The lymphatic system needs your help to move the fluid through the body because it doesn’t have an automatic pump like the heart. The lymphatic system is stimulated by gravity and muscle contraction (exercise). Moving your body is the key to moving fluid through the lymphatic system.
How to move the lymphatic system:
- Move around whenever you can. The lymphatic system depends largely on large muscle activity in the body for its circulation. Stagnation from sitting all day is a major problem. The good news is, any exercise helps – move around for a minute or two every 15-20 minutes, do knee bends, stretch throughout the day, etc. Gentle exercise like stretching and swimming are great for moving the lymph.
- Go for a walk. One of the best ways to activate lymphatic flow is to take a brisk walk. Walking is a weight-bearing activity that creates gravitational pulls on the lymphatic system each time you take a step. Try to take a 15-30 minute brisk walk each day. Swing your arms and power walk for the best results.
- Stretch or practice yoga daily. Stretching and yoga poses are especially effective for moving lymph. Holding stretches combined with conscious deep breathing can help direct lymph through the deep channels of the chest.
- Deep breathing. Although the lymphatic system has no pump like the heart in the circulatory system, the movement from the act of breathing is a lymphatic pump in itself, and can help direct lymph through the chest. Deep, slow diaphragmatic breathing for even just 5-10 repetitions (up to 10 minutes a day) will circulate the lymph especially around the liver: Breathe in slowly through your nose, deeply pushing the stomach out. Slowly let your breath go out through your mouth.
- Hydrate daily with water. Dehydration is a common cause of lymph congestion. Lymph becomes thicker and less mobile when you are dehydrated, but flows well when hydrated. DRINK! DRINK! DRINK!
OHI puts all of these ideas into practice to help move your lymphatic system. Our Gentle Exercise Class and Stretch Class stimulate the lymphatic system to eliminate toxins, boost the immune system, and contribute to the healing process. We don’t do aerobic exercises at OHI because they are too hard on the body when you’re only eating limited calories, and we don’t want anyone feeling lightheaded or risking a fall. Our guided meditation classes incorporate vocal toning and breathwork, which also increases circulation in the lymphatic system, as does our emphasis on drinking fluids and colon cleansing.
Stay safe, and be well. And above all, keep your lymphatic system MOVING!
Lymph exercise is just one of the transformative things you will learn during a visit to OHI San Diego or OHI Austin. We can help you achieve your mental, physical, emotional and spiritual goals for optimal health. For more information, visit our website at www.optimumhealth.org or call us at (800) 588-0809.