Physical Activity, With More Than Just Physical Benefits

Working exercise into your everyday routine may benefit you in ways you might not expect—including daily improvements in your physical and emotional wellbeing. 

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 potentially 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 associated with:

  • Decreased symptoms of depression and anxiety

  • Improved sleep quality

  • Enhanced cognitive functions

  • Improved memory

“I train at an indoor gym, so I get to keep doing that consistently all year, no matter the weather or season. We also have a little gym in our basement (thanks to my hubby, who seems to be able to build anything), so I can do workouts down there to supplement my training classes.”

–Amber, athlete and parent living with CF

Get inspired to move

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

Aerobic and cardiovascular exercises strengthen heart and lungs:

  • Dancing

  • Jogging

  • Biking

  • Skating

  • Riding a skateboard or scooter

  • Swimming

  • Participating in team sports

  • Joining a gym

  • Doing resistance exercises

  • Rowing or kayaking

  • Using a treadmill

  • Playing tennis

  • Playing racquetball

  • Biking

  • Jumping rope

Core strengthening and chest mobility exercises increase abdomen strength, chest wall strength, and mobility and flexibility:

  • Doing sit-ups, crunches and pull-ups

  • Playing catch, dribbling, or hitting a ball with a bat

  • Doing pilates or yoga

Respiratory muscle training can workout your lungs in different ways:

  • Singing

  • Playing wind instruments

Amber Dawkins, an athlete with CF, doing an obstacle course.

Your game plan

Looking for some extra motivation to stay active? Try these tips to get moving.

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.

Keep 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.

Don’t miss 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

Noor, an advocate with CF, stretching with a friend.

Make your plans with a grain of salt

It’s important to replace the electrolytes lost through sweating by adding them back into your diet. Sports drinks are a good place to start, but if you play or exercise outside in hot weather your CF care team may suggest adding table salt to sports drinks, or eating a salty snack during or after your workout.

Be sure to talk to your care team before making any of these changes to your food or drinks.

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