Swimming & ALL Types of Exercising in Water

Contributed by Sharie Fetzer of Lipoedema UK


Why exercise in Water?

Exercising in water benefits people with all stages of lipoedema. Because water is approximately 800 times denser then air, pool-based exercises allow for high levels of energy expenditure with relatively little strain on the body. Lipoedema UK’s Big Survey 2014 found that 63% of people who regularly exercised in water found it effective in reducing the size of lipoedemous areas and 89% found exercising in water effective in helping with pain relief. It is not necessary to be able to swim to participate. There are also emotional benefits, as swimming and aqua aerobics have been found to improve mood and feelings of well-being.

Hydrostatic pressure exerted on the body aids blood circulation, and improves blood return from the extremities, which means kidneys work more efficiently during water exercises. Exercising in water is non-weight bearing so there is minimum strain on legs and knees. The hydrostatic pressure give a like a massage.

Cooler water is better than warmer water. Very hot water such as in hot tubs, saunas or steam rooms may be harmful. Even though your skin may normally feel cool, don’t be frightened of cold water as it stimulates blood flow and you may find it actually warms you up.

Seek out swimwear that you find comfortable and that flatters your shape. If you prefer wearing a suit that covers up the bits you’d rather not show to the world, find a whole body suit on the internet or swim in Bermuda shorts and tee shirt at the beach.

Some people may find exercising in the sea or ocean to be very beneficial. Choose a safe beach and let the tide and waves massage and invigorate you. Make sure someone is watching out for you, that water is safe for bathing, and check out tides and tidal flows. 

Please discuss with your Doctor as to whether this type of exercise may be appropriate for you.  Do not attempt if you do not know how to swim.

As with all thing lipoedema, think outside the box and look at new ways you can enjoy exercising in water! It's cheap, fun, and recommended by all the top lipoedema experts.

Types of Swimming



Suitable for

Walking in water

Walk in a pool, at the beach or in a cool stream.  Mix with traditional strokes and laps.

Cools legs and helps move the lymph fluid.  It may help with pain management and over time improve shape of legs.  Great for hydro-static pressure.  Not even necessary to don a swim suit, turn up your trousers and off you go.

All stages. Look for a pool with easy access or safe beach. Wear shoes if ground is uneven or slippery.

Crawl, front and back

Traditional strokes,  try doing laps of just arms and legs to make sure you use all your muscles, sometimes lippy legs can be lazy and let the arms do all the work.

Over time building up you time and number of laps should strengthen and tone leg and arm muscles

Some lippy ladies may find doing crawl challenging, but persevere even if this is not your favourite stroke

Aqua-aerobics classes and on your own


Avoid tutors who lead from the pool side, and choose one who leads from in the water, Being led from outside the water may be too fast for lippy ladies.  Stop when you have had enough even if the class continues.  Burns up calories and tones muscles.  Joining a friendly group will improve your well-being but you may prefer to work out your own program that works better for you. Anyone who can keep up with the pace of the class.  Always observe a class and check out the tutor before you join.  If you are out of shape you may find a whole class too long.





‘Cycling’ in water

Think of yourself as on a bicycle and cycle with your legs under the water, do breast stroke with your arms, 

May feel a little weird to begin with but great for the lymphatics

People who are confident in water,  otherwise use a floating body belt to add stability

‘Nordic walking’ in water

Think of yourself walking on dry land and stride out and swing alternate arms to your legs.  As you get more experienced you will be able to ‘walk’ laps!

Again, need to practice this one, but great for moving the lymphatics and building up muscle tone.

Not as difficult as it sounds, try in shallow water and when confident go deeper as your legs will benefit from greater pressure the deeper you go.

Breast-stroke  AVOID

The traditional favourite stroke of most ladies is NOT good for lipoedema or anyone with knee problems

Best only done in moderation and if you value your hairstyle more than your knees!

Only for the very young and fit, puts too much pressure on the knees for lippy ladies.

Water Noodle Doodling

Buy a noodle or two or three (everyone will want to borrow them).   Use as a float, sit on it, twist in any shape and do your own thing.  Cheap ones in most drug stores. Giant ones available on the internet.

Great for any strokes and will make exercising in water fun for all. 

Anyone, the whole family and swimmers who want to improve their techniques. Great to use when you are building up your confidence in water.