Continuing with our coverage of Lymphoedema Awareness Week, today we speak to Alana Phizacklea, our Lymphoedema Nurse Specialist and Team Lead. Alana shares her thoughts on living a healthy lifestyle and why movement is such a healthy habit to develop.

Alana Lymphoedema Nurse at Hospice at Home West Cumbria
Alana – Lymphoedema Nurse Specialist

This is me…practicing what I preach!

For what seems like my whole life, I have viewed exercise as a way to lose weight instead of seeing the overall health benefits. It’s only as I’ve got older and wiser (debateable!) that I’ve really started to enjoy being more active!

My husband and I love being outdoors and we try and get up the fells as much as we can, though a Monday – Friday working week means that this activity tends to be limited to weekends. It’s just too easy to go home after a long day at work and do very little! After seeing an advert on social media and following a friend’s recommendation, I decided to join a local gym. To my surprise, I really enjoy it! I feel stronger, fitter and healthier, I sleep better and psychologically it really gives me a boost. OK, so it’s not always easy, but knowing I’m working my heart and lungs as well as releasing ‘happy hormones’ (aka dopamine) is motivation in itself.

Alana Lymphoedema Nurse
Alana and her husband climbing fells in Cumbria

One of the first questions we ask our lymphoedema patients is ‘How active are you?’ This is because that one of the key elements to effectively managing lymphoedema is movement. It’s the muscle activity that really gets the lymph fluid moving. When it comes to exercise and activity, one size does not fit all, and it really does depend on the ability of the patient. Some people could run a marathon whilst others can manage a lap of their garden; some people could go to a gym session, while others may use the stairs at home to go up and down. Some patients may simply walk around the block, whilst some can do repeated sit to stand movement – our job is to help set those goals and ensure patients know the benefits.

Those happy hormones I mentioned earlier are also an important factor for those living with lymphoedema since we know that the condition can have negative psychological effects. As well as promoting lymph drainage exercise can provide mood boosting benefits to your mental wellbeing – and it can also provide a social outlet too. Exercising with others can be way more fun!

The thing to remember is that everyone is different, and we work with our patients to find a solution that’s right for them. It doesn’t matter what your ailment or disability is, there is an activity or exercise to suit everyone – ‘Every BODY can!’

Check back tomorrow when we meet Cat, one of our Lymphoedema Nurses, who will share a series of exercises for everyone to try.

To find out more about lymphoedema and the services we provide at Hospice at Home West Cumbria please visit our lymphoedema page here.