Learn About Exercise and CF

The Basics

  • It’s a journey: Fitness and good health are not destinations, but rather a lifelong journey you travel by doing regular exercise.

  • Lots of benefits: There is clear scientific and clinical evidence that regular exercise provides multiple benefits for those with CF. These benefits are more than better lung function — they also help in managing diabetes and heart disease. Both are important as you get older.

  • Active but not uncomfortable: Do some exercise on purpose at least 3 to 4 days a week at an intensity that allows you to talk during the activity. You don’t want to be so out of breath when you exercise that you can’t talk.

    As a guide, stay comfortably active doing a variety of activities that last more than 10 minutes (aerobic exercise), even if done with some rest pauses. On 1 or 2 of these days, include some resistance activities (like weightlifting). Any exercise is better than none, but it is possible to overdo it.

  • Make it sustainable: The three keys to developing an exercise program you’ll keep doing are:
  1. Selecting a variety of activities that you know you will enjoy.
  2. Finding a social setting in which to participate (partners).
  3. Talking with a person who knows CF and exercise to help develop a plan for you.

Beyond the Basics

Why Exercise Matters

There is growing agreement about the role of exercise both for preventing new diseases and for managing disease in many people. Just as the use of diet, medications and therapy, like airway clearance have a place in CF health, so too does exercise.

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How Much Exercise?

Do 150 minutes of exercise each week. That's 21 minutes a day!

For everyone, the benefits of regular exercise and good physical fitness have become well known in the past 50 years or so. Recent research has also shown that these benefits are not just from vigorous activities like marathon running and other competitive sports.

Even moderate amounts of physical activity — like brisk walking and bicycling — can help extend life and help people stay active and independent. The benefits of regular activity are seen in women and men, older and younger adults, and in those who have health conditions, including CF.

In 2008, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released the first-ever federal guidelines on physical activity for Americans. The guidelines encourage all adults to do at least 150 minutes per week of physical activity that is at least moderate intensity, over and above usual activities of daily living.

An example might be 30 minutes of brisk walking (moderate intensity) on 3 days, plus 20 minutes of jogging (vigorous intensity) on another day of the week. As physical fitness improves, adults are encouraged to do an activity for longer or greater intensity to get more health benefit.

The guidelines also recommend that adults do resistance exercise, like weightlifting, two days per week. This type of activity provides benefits that you can’t get by aerobic exercise alone.

Why You, Why Now?
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Learn More

Learn some simple exercises by watching these webcasts:  

•  Exercise and CF 
•  Help Your Respiratory and Physical Therapist Help You Thrive

So, how does all of this apply to you? People with CF can safely exercise. It is clear that regular exercise will give you the same benefits as it does people without CF.

Even when you are in the hospital you should try to move about as much as possible. This will help you maintain your fitness level and you will do better when you are discharged. When you are in the hospital, ask your CF team to have an order written so someone can help you exercise while you’re there.

The bottom line is that our bodies were made to move. Being inactive is unnatural for your body and can give rise to disease and disability.

Just as an automobile that sits unused in a garage for a long time likely will not function at a peak performance, the same is true for a human body that has long periods of being inactive. The good news is that most people can quickly fix inactive living through simple and low-cost lifestyle changes.

Now, let’s start exercising! 

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Updated 12/26/12