Monday, June 13, 2016

How Exercise Has Changed My CF Life

Research shows that regular physical activity or exercise provides multiple benefits for people with cystic fibrosis. These benefits go beyond better lung function — keeping fit also helps you strengthen your bones, manage diabetes and heart disease and improve your mood.

Growing up with cystic fibrosis, I always made sure to stay active. It was something that my parents encouraged me to do, and even if I didn't know the science behind it, I knew that it was helping me stay healthy. I wasn't diagnosed until I was 6 years old because my lungs were so healthy due to me running and bouncing around all the time. I always fully participated in gym class, we played kickball in the back yard, I cheered in middle and high schools, and I played church league basketball. I was "healthy" and happy during that time.

The problem came during college when I chose not to focus on my health. I chose to ignore the fact that I even have CF. I stopped doing treatments, and I stopped being as active. Sure I did some things, but my activity level dropped significantly. My lung function plummeted, but you all already know that because I have written about that before. From that point on, it was a bit of a ripple effect... Activity goes down, lung function goes down, energy goes down, so willingness to be active goes down. It's a vicious cycle.

A few years ago, I decided it was time to get active again. I bought a gym membership and began working out with my sister. We were inconsistent, but at least we were doing something. I still had a difficult time motivating myself to go to the gym and to get much accomplished while there. During this time, I kept seeing posts on Facebook from a guy that I went to high school with. He had his own gym and was always posting about the programs he offered. I finally bit the bullet and emailed him asking what he had to offer. That was June 23, 2014. I was nervous because this was something unlike anything I had ever done before.

He began working with me and writing programs that would benefit my lungs. I began lifting weights and building up not only my lungs but also my muscles. I grew stronger, and I started noticing differences in how I was feeling. I started sleeping better, my lungs were feeling more open, I was getting sick less often, and my weight (which can be very difficult for those of us with CF to keep up) became more stable.

Has my lung function sky rocketed? No... But it has been on the rise this past year. I went this whole past year without having any major sicknesses! That's huge, and I credit my working out with that as much as I do my breathing treatments. I feel strong. I feel confident. I feel great! My advice to any people with cystic fibrosis is to get active. It doesn't have to be running; it can be anything. If you are a CF parent, have your child play outside riding bikes, running around, playing tag. It's so important for our health.

Working out has become part of my health plan. I'm at the gym 4-5 days a week following the plan my trainer has laid out for me. There are days when I'm not feeling it, and it is challenging and exhausting. But it is so worth it!

If you are looking for a great gym in the Knoxville, TN area, Unlimited Training Systems is the place to go! The owner, Blake, has changed my life, and I am so grateful!