As promised…

Because I have CF, and a significant number of readers of this blog have CF, I have list CF-specific reasons first.  Multiple reasons that apply to the general population (incuding people with CF) follow.

  • When you don’t use your lungs, and I mean really deeply breathe to the point where you might get some odd looks because of your cough, you won’t be as successful in getting the crud out of your airways.  It just helps.  Exercise is heavily advocated in European countries and Canada and is being increasingly so here in the United States.  In 2005, in a paper entitled “Standards of care for patients with cystic fibrosis: a European consensus,” (Kerem, et al; Journal of Cystic Fibrosis 4 (2005) 7 – 26), exercise promotion is specifically listed along with airway clearance, inhalation therapy, and education as specific roles for the CF center physiotherapist.   Supervised in-patient physical exercise is also required for hospital stays (with additional oxygen if needed).  Many centers also mandate  annual exercise testing.  These are standards of care, i.e. they are not optional.  As you probably know the European CF Centers have quite a good track record.  The US CF centers are catching on, and most recommend exercising regularly.  However, the insistence that this is a routine part of CF care is generally lacking here.  This will change.
  • While some things, like better lung clearance with exercise, have not been experimentally validated beyond question (it just makes sense), other very important parameters have.  Would you like to slow the decline of your lung function?  I would.  Studies have not all shown improvements in lung function with exercise, but they have consistently shown that regular aerobic exercise (HR of 150 BPM for 20 minutes, 3 times/week) significantly slowed the rate of decline of lung function (Journal of Cystic Fibrosis 4 (2005) 7 – 26).
  • Regular cardiovascular exercise increases functional capacity.  This means we can do more with less energy.  Maybe some of you have experienced days when energy isn’t exactly abundant?  This is when increase functional capacity comes in handy.
  • A regular exercise program including aerobic exercise diminishes the sensation of air hunger.  Many studies have shown this, both in CF and other types of COPD.  Air hunger sucks.
  • Exercise improves appetite.  Therefore, you will eat more.  Therefore, it will be easier to keep weight on.
  • Hundreds of studies have shown that exercise improves quality of life, in all people, including those with CF.
  • NOT EXERCISING IS A DEPRESSANT! Do you really need something else to bum you out?
  • Exercise improves bowel function.  Enough said.
  • Weight lifting (resistance) exercise builds muscle mass.  This is true if you are a preadolescent.  This is true if you are 95 years old.  This is true even if your CFTR is messed up.  I know this from my fitness training and from personal experience.  This is ONE very visible aspect of your body that you have a say about!   It’s nice to be normal that way.  Try it!
  • Exercise (especially strengthening the back and stretching the front of the torso) will improve posture.  Improved posture can increase the amount of lung volume available for breathing.  This is significant.  You can also reduce back pain.
  • Once you get past any initial distress (if you aren’t used to moving), exercising actually feels good!

There are probably more.  These are off the top of my head.  If you can think of more, chime in and add a comment.