Exercise Management Tips

Keep Records to Track Your Progress  

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Check This Out!

Read "Exercise and CF" and find a chart to help you keep track of your physical activity.

A critical part of the exercise program is keeping records of your daily exercise. This will help you know if you are meeting both process and product goals (see “Step it Up”). Keeping records will be helpful to measure your progress.

One approach is to keep a written (such as on the computer) exercise diary. A step counter, or pedometer, is an easy-to-use monitoring device. Low-cost, battery-operated step counters are about the size of a small MP3 player. They are worn on your belt and record the number of steps that you take throughout the day. The step count is displayed on a digital screen so you always have feedback on how much you’re walking.

Your aerobic exercise program can include a target number of daily steps, often set at 10,000 steps per day, which may help motivate you to reach your exercise goals.

Periodic Retesting 

Repeating the physical fitness testing you did with your care team before starting your exercise program will give you important information on how exercise is helping your body. This information is useful for modifying the exercise prescription during the program and for evaluating the overall success of the exercise program. It may help you and your health care provider decide on whether to begin new CF therapies or modify your current therapies.

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Simple Ways to Add Exercise to Your Day! 

•  Walk the stairs instead of taking the elevator.
•  Walk your dog (or a friend's or neighbor's).
Dance to your favorite music.
Walk the shopping mall.
•  Park farther from the store entrance.
What Kind of Exercise Is Best? 

In the past, many people assumed that only vigorous activities such as running would benefit health. Scientific research has debunked this myth. It has been shown that the type of activity is less important than doing regular exercise.

We suggest you select an activity that you enjoy and thus are more likely to regularly do. Walking, swimming, jogging, running, ice-skating, bicycling, elliptical strider and tennis are examples of aerobic activities that are at least moderate intensity. If the activity is done long enough, it benefits your health.

What about Stretching?

As part of your cooling-down period after exercise, think about doing some gentle stretches. Not only will these stretches help you wind down after exercise they may improve your flexibility. This slideshow from the Mayo Clinic explores some of the more important stretches to include in your routine.

  • Watch the CF Foundation's webcast “Exercise and CF” for some simple stretching exercises.

Is Exercise Safe? 

Regular exercise is a good health habit. But you should talk with your doctor or physical therapist about any risks that may result.

The most common risk during exercise is musculoskeletal injuries, such as sprained ligaments, strained muscles and overuse injuries. Injury risk is higher in those with a history of previous musculoskeletal injury and is associated with exercise intensity.

The risk of exercise-related cardiovascular complications (e.g., heart attack) is quite low. Cardiac events during exercise are most likely to occur in people with existing cardiovascular disease and in those who are inactive and out of shape.

The risks of exercise can be reduced through sensible habits that include:

  • Warming up before and cooling down after exercise
  • Slowly increasing exercise amount and intensity toward your goal. You don’t want to start walking 3 miles (your goal) when you haven’t even walked 4 blocks regularly.
  • Pay attention to sensations or responses during exercise that may be a sign of injury 

Talk to your doctor or physical therapist before exercising if you have:

  • Cor pulmonale (failure on the right side of the heart) or pulmonary hypertension
  • Symptomatic heart disease

Modify your exercise program when you have:

  • An exacerbation or acute respiratory infection
  • A musculoskeletal injury or condition that limits mobility

What Else You Can Do

  • Get the most out of your exercise program by paying close attention to your diet. Eat a balanced diet that has enough calories to meet your energy needs.

  • Seek ways to engage with others in your activity; join a hiking club,  fundraising walks and organized runs.

  • Reduce your inactive time — sitting at the computer, playing video games, watching TV — and replace that time with more active pursuits.

Remember, the severity of your lung disease and certain medications may change how your heart rate responds to exercise. You should always talk to your doctor or physical therapist to be sure you are monitoring your exercise intensity correctly.

Want to Challenge Yourself Even More?

If you are thinking of doing a competitive sport, keep these things in mind:

  • Find an environment where you will get positive feedback. This means that the activities are supervised or refereed properly and that the competition does not pose special risks.

  • Avoid competitive environments that put pressure on you to continue activity when your lungs or body might be telling you to stop.

  • Winning is OK, but not at all costs.

Many adults with CF are able to participate in strenuous sporting events, including marathon running. Talk about these activities with your health care team before starting.

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Updated 12/26/12