Creating A CF Exercise Regime That Fits
We all hear the physios harp on about exercise but sometimes it can be daunting thinking about where to start. It took me many years and the breakthrough of modulator drugs to really feel capable and most importantly, physically strong enough to pick up a dumbbell or put my foot to the pavement for a run.
I know many other CFers have felt this too since Trikafta. The newfound physical strength and freedom to build a fitness regime that sticks. We can be a little more consistent with our exercise goals as the physical barriers plus untimely hospital admissions lift.
Consistency is key but confidence is the gateway. My first step on my fitness journey was trusting myself. It can take a while to find that inner power. I started with exercising at home. This helped me to work on my mindset about going to the gym or an exercise class.
A big thing that held me back was the fear of having a coughing fit around other people at the gym but in all honesty, everyone is too interested in their own workout to pay attention to what anyone else is doing.
Mind over matter
I felt I really needed a professional to show me the ropes around building strength and understanding how best to train my body so I decided to get a personal trainer. This was a game changer, having a PT really helped bring to light just how capable I was both physically and mentally. Week after week I felt stronger, fitter and much more confident. Connecting with like minded people always helps keep morale high making fitness goals more achievable.
Creating achievable fitness goals
Don’t run before you can walk was a lesson that came up for me early on into my health and fitness journey. If I threw myself in at the deep end, I would most likely sink with an injury or sheer exhaustion. I took things slow and steady; creating fitness goals, tailored to me and not the “fitness societal norms”.
Things I considered starting a new fitness regime:
- How much time can I regularly commit to exercise?
- What exercise or fitness areas do I want to focus on?
- Do I want to build muscle, increase cardio health or perhaps become flexible and supple?
- Make sure I assessed where my current health was and what was attainable, always with the option to discuss anything new with my chest physiotherapist or clinician
… is the secret nobody has the answer for! The truth is, motivation is hard to come by. Sure in the beginning it's present but after a few weeks you usually start to notice it slacking. One of the biggest obstacles to building exercise or any routine is motivation. My advice is don’t wait to be motivated to exercise, sometimes you have just got to do it and afterwards you will remember why.
Another tool is to hang onto how you feel after you exercise and when you next head to a gym, your yoga mat or PT, don’t look for motivation but look for that post exercise feeling. Something that always works for me is thinking about how much healthier my lungs will be after a workout.
Keeping track of progress
This is where you can really appreciate the rewards of a consistent exercise regime by keeping track of progress. Have you noticed an increase in your spirometry numbers or perhaps they have been more consistent. Less hospital admissions and more energy? Less fat, more muscle? Clothes fitting better? Able to climb hills without getting as breathy? Feeling stronger? Sleeping better? The benefits are endless and taking note of them makes the 30 minutes on a treadmill worth it.
And remember don't let the bad days put you off, we all have them but they don't encapsulate the whole journey. Just keep turning up for yourself week after week and watch your confidence, cadence and spiro grow.
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