By Jennifer Gendron, Health & Wellness Coach
There are many well-known benefits to being physically active but there are also many that don’t get as much air time such as supporting our lymphatic system! The lymphatic system may not be one of the body’s systems that we talk about much but, it plays a very important role in our overall health.
Comprised of miles and miles of vessels throughout the body, the lymphatic system is responsible for removing cellular waste, keeping the fluid levels balanced in the body and transporting much needed nutrients throughout the body.
Exercise is one of the important ways we support this system as the pumping action of muscles gets the lymph flowing throughout the body. When we are inactive, this system gets slowed down – this is one of the reasons that we get swelling in our feet and ankles after sitting for long periods of time. To keep this important bodily system healthy and happy, be sure to engage in regular physical activity and be sure to get up and move around at regular intervals if you have a sedentary job that has you sitting in one place for long periods of time.
Another cool way that you can jump start your lymphatic system is using hydrotherapy. If you have ever been to a Nordic spa where they use hot and cold water contrasts, you have been supporting your lymphatic system without even knowing it! Those quick changes from a warm sauna or shower to immersing yourself in cold water, get the lymph flowing in the body. And you can even use this technique at home. To have a “contrast shower”, follow these steps:
• Get in to your shower and turn on the hot water – spend 2 minutes under the hot water
• After 2 minutes, switch to cold water and stay with this for 30 seconds.
• Repeat twice.
This technique can take a little getting used to as it is quite a shock to the system but can have big benefits as the switching back and forth causes the blood vessels to relax and then constrict, pumping lymph throughout the body. Besides being just generally good for us, this technique has been shown to reduce the soreness we sometimes feel after a tough workout known as “delayed onset muscle soreness” as it helps clear away waste products and stimulate the tissues.
Supporting your lymphatic system is just one more reason to keep regular physical activity a part of your routine – and maybe throw a cold shower in there too!
RESOURCES: Alive Academy: Natural Health Fundamentals