Staying Active with CF
Staying active can feel like a balancing act, especially as a person living with cystic fibrosis (CF). Sure, there are plenty of fun ways to get your body moving. But remember, it is always best to do what works for you, and ultimately what works for your CF.
We asked our CF advocates to share their favorite ways to stay active. Read through their fun and creative responses. You may just find your next physical activity below!
Response from Ella
My favorite ways to stay active are playing tennis with friends when the weather is nice, especially in the spring and fall months and when my lungs are feeling particularly strong.
Low lung function and exertion
Having low lung function, exerting and physical activity is hard on me. But I also know how important it is to keep my lungs strong and in moving mucus from the airways. A few times a week I also do HIIT exercises using light weights (following my favorite YouTube fitness trainer Sydney Cummings). When I am sore but still want to get some cardio, I use the elliptical I have in my house.
Response from Katelyn
Staying active is so vital for physical health and mental health. I was a gymnast and runner for years when I was younger, but now that I’m in my mid-thirties, my joints aren’t what they used to be!
Nowadays, I really enjoy walking with my husband in our neighborhood or meeting up with a friend at a park and walking around and enjoying the view. It helps keep my muscles stretched, helps with airway clearance, and it also helps me clear my mind. I’ve also noticed I sleep so much better on the days I am active!
Response from Janeil
Apart from being a mom of two littles which keeps me very active throughout the day, I love to take family walks or hikes in the evenings. Our love for family walks grew out of the COVID lockdowns when we were sheltering in place but needed something to do with our son before we went stir crazy.
Good but gentle exercise
We also are lucky enough to live next to a national park with a ton of easily accessible hiking sites. Hiking is good but gentle exercise for my lungs as well. The fun part is nature is vast and there’s always a new sight to see as a family!
To that end, I was involved in all kinds of sports throughout childhood: soccer, baseball, basketball, football, rugby, lacrosse, and probably more that I can’t remember now. They are all fairly cardio-intensive sports, and helped significantly to keep my breathing healthy.
Of course, with growing up and getting busier, those activities fell away and I had to find new ways to keep busy. College found me using the campus gym (although less than I should have) and trying to get into recreational sports like dodgeball. Since then, I’ve stuck with a similar approach as an adult.
I try to workout by going to the gym, or even jogging around my neighborhood. I also managed to find recreation sports programs where I live to keep me active as well, so I’ve been able to play things like kickball and volleyball. Lately, my favorite way to keep moving has been getting out and running with dogs that we’ve fostered or walked for local shelters. That’s emotionally fulfilling, as well as physically.
A changing world
Finally, with the changing of the world over the past two years, my gym time or jogging around the neighborhood was heavily impacted, so I invested in home exercise equipment. I have a rowing machine and a Tonal home gym to help keep me very occupied (and hopefully healthy) during all my time at home these days.
To sum it up, variety has been key to keeping active and making sure breathing therapies aren’t my only source of exercise, and the more activity I do, the better I feel.
Response from Cheriz
I love dancing and singing! I was very involved in show choir and community theatre for over 20+ years. Since my husband and I became foster parents we have taken a step back to have time for all our kids’ appointments and commitment. However, I still do dance workouts and sing all the time!
Fun workout routines
I also joined a fitness app and do dance workouts a couple times a week. The program keeps me accountable ( I’m not usually enthusiastic about working out). But, it’s important, so I find fun workout routines to keep me motivated. .
Response from Nicole
There have definitely been phases of my life when I wasn’t as active or didn’t have a structured routine. As I have grown older, I realize that I thrive best when I have some type of routine; without it I seem to waste a lot of time.
Most recently, as I juggle working full-time, being a wife and being a full-time mom with twin 5 year olds in school, I find that without a structured routine I won’t ever get to do the things that I want. To me, that means waking up between 5-5:30 most mornings to be able to focus on me (do my treatment and fit in a workout) before I can take care of my family.
Staying active throughout the day
I am extremely fortunate to have both the Peleton bike and tread in my home basement gym. Both of which have especially been life savers at the peak of the pandemic when we didn’t leave our house for over 15 months.
Aside from my cardio and strength workouts, I have also found that being active doesn’t have to be a defined workout. Walking my kids to the bus stop in the mornings, playing outside with them and running around are also great ways to be active. While working from home some days of the week, I also find taking a walk during a conference call is also a great way to stay active throughout the day.
I used to think working out in the morning was enough, but then I would find myself sitting the rest of the day which doesn’t help me achieve my goals of being active.
Response from Meagan
As a mom to two young girls, one of whom has CF, staying active has always been something I prioritize. I consider it coveted “me” time and as a critical tool to combat mental and emotional fatigue that comes with being a parent.
Best source of self-care
My favorite way to be active is running. I’ve been running regularly since college and it is by far the best source of self-care out there for me. I think clearer and feel stronger after a run. My daughter, Margo, has participated in a running program for kids called Healthy Kids Running series since she was two years old and really enjoys it. It’s important to me that she recognizes that healthy physical activity is a priority in my life and that it can be in her life, too.
What are your favorite ways to stay active? We would love to hear from you in the comments!
Cystic fibrosis affects every aspect of life. Will you tell us about the realities of CF in our survey?