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Cystic Fibrosis and Exercise

Topic Overview

Regular exercise improves the health of people who have cystic fibrosis. Exercise helps loosen mucus, encourages coughing, improves oxygen flow, and makes you feel better. Upper body exercises, such as swimming or rowing, increase the strength and endurance of the muscles that are used for breathing.

After talking to your doctor about how much exercise is good for your child, encourage your child to participate in sports and recreational activities. Team sports are great ways for your child to stay fit and to interact with other children. Talk to the coach or supervisor about your child's abilities and the important role of physical activity in the treatment of cystic fibrosis.

Some people who have cystic fibrosis may not be strong enough to take part in certain activities. Your doctor can recommend the right amount and type of exercise for you. Or you may work with a physical therapist to plan your own exercise routine. For more information, see the topic Fitness: Getting and Staying Active.

Caution: People who have cystic fibrosis need more salt than people who do not have cystic fibrosis. Your body may lose salts and not be able to cool off during exercise. This happens especially when the weather is hot or during intense or lengthy exercise. So make sure that you replace salt lost during exercise. Drink plenty of fluids before, during, and after exercise. Sports drinks that contain electrolytes are especially good to help replace lost salts.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer John Pope, MD - Pediatrics
Specialist Medical Reviewer Susanna McColley, MD - Pediatric Pulmonology
Last Revised July 18, 2013

Last Revised: July 18, 2013

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