We’ve been asked about massages being a replacement for general exercise and whether regular massages can replace the need to exercise regularly. The simple answer is yes, but no also. Massage can provide the same physiological response and benefits that light exercises do. However, we must not assume that means to replace it.
Here is a good physiological illustration:
The lymphatic system is part of the immune system that is comprised of extensive network of vessels that move fluid (called lymph) unilaterally toward the heart. Think of it as the “garbage bin” of the immune system, carrying dead proteins, bacteria, toxins etc., out of the system. Unlike every other system, it does not have a “pump” the way the heart is for the circulatory system or the lungs are for the respiratory system. It depends exclusively on the muscloskeletal system. That is one huge reason why exercise is a must, not an option.
If you are unable to exercise at times, massage is arguable the next best thing. In short, the massage therapist assists the body in moving the lymph. Increased lymph flow removes harmful substances from the tissues and increases immune function.
There are many other illustrations relating to the cardiovascular or endocrine system. But there are many illustrations where exercise is better or more necessary than massage. One cannot simply lose weight via massage as well as through exercise. So to reiterate, that original question depends greatly on the circumstances of the individual.