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Lymphatic System and Exercise - Shorts

Unless something goes terribly wrong with it, the lymphatic system is pretty much disregarded and undervalued in US medicine. The lymph system includes lymph vessels and nodes, tonsils, adenoids, appendix, spleen, and the thymus gland. These organs and nodes provide much of the body's immune defense. Lymph vessels carry interstitial fluid and all types of toxins and wastes from tissues and organs to the subclavian veins where the fluid enters the bloodstream. The waste can then be filtered out by the liver and kidneys and eliminated from the body. Encouraging lymph flow is not only necessary for health, it may also be a factor in alleviating numerous health conditions including allergies, eczema and other skin conditions, infections, chronic sinusitis, inflammation, and edema.

The lymphatic system, unlike the circulatory system, has no pump to move lymph fluid. In an article for The Courier-Journal (Louisville, Kentucky), Bryant Stamford, who has a doctorate in exercise physiology, explains that any form of exercise that incorporates major muscle groups and deep breathing will encourage lymph flow. Muscle movement squeezes lymph vessels. The fluid is then moved toward the subclavian veins near the heart. One-way valves in the vessels prevent the fluid from moving backwards, away from the heart. Deep breathing is especially beneficial because breathing muscles squeeze the lymphatic thoracic duct, which dumps most of the body's lymph into the bloodstream.

One form of exercise that seems especially beneficial for the lymph movement is rebounding, which involves jumping or jogging on a mini-trampoline. An article by Morton Walker (Townsend Letter for Doctors, July 1995) calls rebounding "a lymphatic exercise." Jumping on a high-quality rebounder, being propelled into a state of weightlessness at the top of the bounce, then landing with twice the force of gravity creates hydraulic pressure that moves fluids. In his article, Dr. Walker recommends using rebounders with a Permatron mat. Low-cost, poorly constructed rebounding devices can be harmful because they do not yield; "the abrupt jarring effect is the same as landing on the floor."


Jule Klotter, Townsend Letters for  Doctors,  May 2003

"Lymphacizing" -- Lymphatic Exercise for Vibrant Health.
Stamford, Bryant. Exercise helps lymphatic 'river' go with the flow. The Courier-Journal (Louisville, Kentucky) May 19, 2002.
Walker, Morton, DPM. Jumping for Health. Townsend Letter for Doctors July 1995.

Copyright 2003 The Townsend Letter Group
Copyright 2003 Gale Group

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