Staying active with CF

Staying Active With CF

Physical activity

Benefits of physical activity

Here are some daily improvements that may come from the exercise you work into your routine. Before starting any physical activity or exercise, talk to your doctor to see what might be right for you. 

  • Breathing benefits: There's a growing body of evidence suggesting that exercise and physical activity can lead to improvements in lung function. Exercise can also help people with cystic fibrosis (CF) benefit from enhanced airway clearance. Translation: better mucus clearance, healthier lungs!
  • Mind-body relationship: Regular exercise works both ends of the mind/body spectrum. In fact, exercise has been proven to:
    • Decrease symptoms of depression and anxiety
    • Improve sleep quality
    • Improve health-related quality of life—someone’s perception of their own mental and physical health

Learn more about maintaining a healthy mindset

Exercise may make you cough more than normal, but that’s actually good for you. Want to get rid of even more mucus? Consider performing huff coughs.

Age-specific physical activity recommendations

Age-specific physical activity recommendations

Wondering what exercises to incorporate into your schedule? Here are some exercise ideas for people with CF broken down by age.

Before starting any physical activity or exercise listed below, talk to your doctor to see what may be right for you. 

Age group For children up to age 12 For people age 13+
Aerobic/ cardiovascular exercises: To strengthen heart and lungs
  • Running games
  • Dancing
  • Jumping rope/jumping jacks
  • Playing tag
  • Tricycling or biking
  • Skating
  • Skateboarding
  • Practicing gymnastics
  • Dancing
  • Jogging
  • Biking
  • Skating
  • Riding a skateboard or scooter
  • Swimming
  • Participating in team sports
  • Joining a gym
  • Doing resistance exercises
  • Rowing
  • Using a treadmill
  • Playing tennis
  • Playing racquetball
  • Kayaking
  • Jumping rope
Core strengthening and chest mobility exercises: To increase abdomen strength, chest wall strength, and mobility (flexibility)
  • Singing
  • Playing wind instruments
  • Blowing bubbles
  • Playing on the monkey bars
  • Doing sit-ups, crunches, and push-ups
  • Playing catch, dribbling, or batting a ball
  • Singing
  • Playing wind instruments
  • Doing sit-ups, crunches, and push-ups
  • Playing catch, dribbling, or batting a ball
  • Doing Pilates or yoga
Exercise timer

Your game plan

Looking for Some Extra Motivation to Stay Active?

  • Team up: Exercise doesn’t have to be a solo activity—try joining a team sport, working out with friends, or getting a workout buddy! 
  • Rock out: Listening to music while working out hits all the right notes! It can keep things exciting, even during repetitive exercises, and it can also help you lock into a groove. So polish up that playlist and have a soundtrack ready for your next workout
  • Set small, attainable goals: People have more success achieving their goals when they set realistic expectations. Once those goals are met, they can be used as the foundation for bigger challenges. For example, if you enjoy biking, try to bike 1 or 2 miles on the weekend and work your way up to biking that same distance every day

A great way to keep your exercise routine interesting is to get out of the gym and explore some nearby trails with your family. Got somewhere to be after? Put on a wool shirt. It naturally fights odor so you can smell fresh the entire day.

Try Making a Habit of:

  • Keeping an extra gym bag at work or in your car: Why? Because you’ll be ready to hit the gym or go for a run when the inspiration hits. You may even be able to squeeze in a workout during lunch hour
  • Stocking up on sports drinks: It’s important to replace the electrolytes lost through sweating by adding them back into your diet. Sports drinks are usually packed with electrolytes and can do the trick
  • Not missing a beat: It’s hard to stay on top of exercise routines when life gets busy. But you can still get yourself going with these daily choices:
    • Ditching the elevator and choosing the stairs
    • Doing simple body weight exercises like push-ups, planks, and crunches while watching TV
    • Doing housework—a great way to take care of your home and your body