Lipedema Treatment: Importance of Exercise and Practical Tips

By October 5, 2023 June 23rd, 2024 No Comments
exercise as treatment

Exercise Is an Important Part of Lipedema Treatment,
Study Finds: Real-Life Examples and Tips for Women

CDT + Exercise Found to Be Most Effective in Reducing Limb Volume
and Improving Pain and Function in Women with Stage 3-4 Lipedema

A new study,
The Effects of Complete Decongestive Therapy or Intermittent Pneumatic Compression Therapy or Exercise Only in the Treatment of Severe Lipedema: A Randomized Controlled Trial published in the journal Lymphatic Research and Biology found that exercise is an important part of lipedema treatment, especially when combined with manual lymph drainage (MLD) and compression bandaging.

The study, which was conducted in Turkey, enrolled 33 women with stage 3-4 lipedema. The women were randomly assigned to one of three groups:

  • CDT + exercise: This group received 30 sessions of Complete Decongestive Therapy (CDT), as well as an exercise program that included warm-up, aerobic exercise, strength training, and cool-down.
  • Pump + exercise: This group received 30 sessions of intermittent pneumatic compression (IPC) therapy, as well as the same exercise program as the CDT + exercise group.
  • Exercise only: This group received the same exercise program as the other two groups, but did not receive any other treatment.

The women in all three groups participated in the exercise program for 6 weeks. At the end of the study, the women in the CDT + exercise group had significantly greater reductions in limb volume and pain, and improved physical function, compared to the other two groups.

Lipedema Overview

Lipedema is a chronic condition that causes abnormal fat deposits in the legs, hips, and sometimes the arms. It is not caused by obesity or poor diet, and it is not curable. However, some treatments can help to reduce the symptoms of lipedema, including exercise, CDT, and compression bandaging.

Tips for Women with Lipedema

If you have lipedema, here are some tips for exercising:

  • Start slowly and gradually increase the intensity and duration of your workouts.
  • Choose exercises that are low-impact and do not put too much strain on your joints.
  • Wear compression garments during exercise.
  • Avoid exercises that cause pain.
  • Talk to your doctor or a physical therapist before starting any new exercise program.


This study adds to the growing body of evidence that exercise is an important part of lipedema treatment. If you have lipedema, talk to your doctor about developing an exercise program that is right for you. 

For more related content, be sure to check out Lipedema Simplified’s Flash Briefings, our daily mini-podcast with tips, tools, helpful research, and other resources pertaining to lipedema.

~ Leslyn Keith, OTD, CLT-LANA
Board President, Director of Research | The Lipedema Project

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