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Use the Right Approach

Don’t let excuses hold you back from better health!

Let’s talk about how to get over one of the biggest hurdles to exercising: Excuses. We have all heard just about every excuse imaginable — we may have even used them ourselves. So, to cut to the chase, just pick the excuse  that works most often for you!


“I don’t have enough time.”

You do need to take time out of each day for exercise, but it is likely that you already have developed good daily time-management skills for your CF therapy. You should think of regular exercise as an extension of your plan to stay healthy with CF. 

“It hurts too much.”

When overdone, exercise can hurt. But remember: you don’t have to become fit in one week. Take the long view and improve your level of exercise over a longer period. This will help you avoid the exercise intensity that causes muscle ache and pain.

If you do little exercise right now, start with 5 to 10 minutes of easy walking, 3 to 4 times a week. Then, over a period of several months, increase the walking time to 30 minutes, 5 to 6 times a week.

While a bit more exercise than this may provide additional health benefits, be careful not to overdo it. It is important to talk with your care providers about your exercise plan.

“I don’t like to exercise.”

Well, you share this opinion with others. There is no question that exercise does take some effort. But so does taking your daily CF medications or doing your other health care tasks. We bet you don’t really like to do those either. But you do them anyway because you know they are good for you. Exercise is no different.

But … you have some choices with exercise. You can choose from a wide variety of activities, or do only those that you like to do or do multiple activities.

Maybe you can walk several days a week through a pleasant park or the mall and then play tennis or some other game with friends on other days. Don’t limit yourself. Be creative and … HAVE FUN!

“I can’t find anything I like to do.”

OK, now you are really pushing the excuse limit. There must be something you like to do.

Do you have a friend that you like to talk with regularly? Go for a walk and do your talking —  either by walking together or giving your friend a call on your cell phone. Join your local gym or community recreation center and try a variety of activities. You are likely to find one or two things that you enjoy and can do at different times in the week.

“The dog ate my exercise program.”

Of course this is a pretty lame excuse but it does point up an important fact: you should talk with someone who understands CF and exercise so they can help you set up an exercise program and have a backup copy when yours becomes dog food!

Get the Facts

Still trying to convince yourself that regular exercise will be good for you? Check out these facts.

  • Exercise stimulates coughing. Don’t try to suppress this cough as it can help you get rid of excess mucus — a good thing.

  • Regular exercise helps keep CF-related diabetes in better control and can help control and prevent other diseases, like bone disease.

  • Exercise strengthens your breathing muscles so you are stronger if and when you get sick.

  • Exercise helps you build muscle and have stronger bones.

Remember: Stay hydrated! Since you will lose more salt in your sweat when you exercise than people without CF do, you need to pay particular attention to hydration. Consider adding ½ teaspoon of salt to a quart of water or ¼ teaspoon of salt to a quart of sport drink.

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Updated 12/26/12

The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation is an accredited charity of the Better Business Bureau.