Staying active is really important for keeping well and giving your mood a boost.
Why is physical activity important for people with CF?
Being active improves your health and wellbeing. For people with CF, exercise can help with:
- Lung function and mucus clearance
- Bone density and preventing osteoporosis
- Heart health
- Muscle strength and posture
- Blood sugar control
- Mental health and quality of life.
What is physical activity?
Physical activity means any movement a person does. This can include a wide range of activities, such as doing household chores, dancing to your favourite music, walking to work, as well as planned exercise and playing sport. You get the most health benefits from physical activity by doing a range of different activities, and including a mixture of cardiovascular exercise, strength-based activities, and stretching.
- Cardiovascular exercise is important for lung and heart function. This includes activities like running, swimming, and cycling.
- Strength-based activities are important for bone health and muscle strength. This includes activities like lifting weights, body-weight movements (e.g. push-ups), rock-climbing, and some yoga poses.
- Stretching is important before and after exercise to prevent injury and help with muscle recovery. Including stretching into your regular exercise routine will also help to maintain and improve your posture and flexibility. This includes activities like yoga, Pilates, Tai-Chi, and any static (holding a stretch) or dynamic (stretching whilst moving) stretches. Read our guide to improving your posture to learn some simple stretches.
How can I become more active?
It can be challenging to develop and maintain a regular exercise routine, especially if you’ve never been into sports or exercising. If you’re starting from doing little to no exercise, it’s important to build up slowly. Your CF Team can help you to find ways to exercise that suit you, your goals, and your current levels of health and fitness. They will also advise you on how often, how long, and how intensely you should be exercising, and extra measures that you might need to take to prevent dehydration and low blood sugar.
Where can I find inspiration and resources for physical activity?
Finding something you enjoy and developing a routine is key for making physical activity a habit. You can get ideas for what type of exercise might suit you and where to do it from the BBC’s Get Inspired List.
There are also plenty of physical activities that are not a sport and you can do from home. Check out Beam, an online exercise platform for people with CF that offers live and on-demand exercise classes, as well as motivational and community support. Their exercise classes support people at all life stages and are led by specialist instructors who either live with work in CF.
Take a look at our exercise videos tailor-made for people with CF that can be practiced at home, demonstrating how to:
How can I make physical activity more fun for my child with CF?
Regularly exercising from a young age can help to make staying active a healthy habit and life choice. Children and young people are encouraged to take part in anything that gets them active – sports, dance, and even playing some musical instruments or singing. Trying out lots of different activities can help children and young people to find out what they enjoy, and school is a great place to access these. Your child’s CF Team may also be able to help identify and access exercise that is best for them.
Take a look at our resources for making exercise fun for children and young people:
- AlphabExercise: a fun way to get the body moving for every letter of the alphabet, developed by our Youth Advisory Group (YAG). You can find AlphabExercise on our youth Instagram channel, @CFtrustyouth.
- Special celebrity guests, including singer Mel C, Paralympian Ade Adepitan, and Strictly star Oti Mabuse, have filmed fun exercise videos for children with CF.
Where can I hear about others’ experience of physical activity with CF?
- Read Joe’s story, Grace’s story, and Issy’s story about their different exercise passions.
- Read stories from people with CF in the news celebrating their achievements in exercise. Read about a teenager who summits Kilimanjaro and a pole-vaulting star.
- Watch Nathan Charles, Australian Rugby Union star, sharing his experience of pursuing a professional sporting career while managing his CF.
- Take a look at this Steve Bell, who has six marathons under his belt (including five that he completed in less than four hours each) and has CF.
- Meet brothers Colin (11) and Sean (9), who are active in baseball and basketball as well as other games with their friends, and both have CF.
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