Water workouts, walking and seated exercises are most commonly used to strengthen muscles and help to improve edema, according to Progressive Health. Swimming, water walking and water aerobics all help decrease fluid build-up in the legs by exerting force against the pressure of the water to keep fluid from building up in the tissues.
The buoyancy of water creates less stress on muscles and joints when performing water workouts, making them especially effective for people suffering from edema, according to Progressive Health. Occurring when fluids become trapped in tissues before circulating back to the heart, edema also can be improved by walking. Walking can improve blood circulation and release trapped fluids from the tissues during leg contractions. Because walking also can aggravate swelling, people with edema should aim for no more than 30 minutes of walking per day.
Many people have jobs that require sitting all day, and in this case, seated exercises are a good option to keep the blood flowing and prevent water retention, according to Progressive Health. One simple seated exercise is pointing the toes outward and then flexing them back toward the body. The pointing and pumping should be repeated for 30-second intervals before relaxing and repeating up to 10 times.