Children With Cystic Fibrosis Benefit From Exercise

Cystic fibrosis patients lung function improves with exercise

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Children and teens with cystic fibrosis (CF) often have difficulty exercising due to their diminished lung performance.

As proper exercise is essential to all seeking a healthy lifestyle, researchers engaged in a unique approach to support cystic fibrosis children in their exercising quests. 

Children with cystic fibrosis have difficulty keeping rigidly structured high-intensity exercises sustained over time. A team at Johns Hopkins designed exercise regimens that can fit easily into each child's daily life.

"Exercise improves lung function for children with cystic fibrosis."

Cystic fibrosis is a condition where an altered protein interrupts the regulation of the normal movement of salt (sodium chloride) in and out of cells. The results: Thick, sticky secretions in the respiratory tracts, the digestive tracts, and the reproductive system.

The researchers say that benefits of exercise on overall health are well-known, but many pulmonologists shy away from formally prescribing exercise as part of the treatment plan for cystic fibrosis patients. 

Researchers asked 58 children with CF, ages 6 to 16, what they like to do and which physical activity they prefer. Based on their answers, doctors prescribed individually tailored exercise recommendations based on their activity preferences and starting abilities.

Comparison of patients' lung function and exercise tolerance before and after the two-month program showed that patients did indeed improve after the exercise regime.

CF patients followed complex treatment regimens including daily medication, breathing exercises and therapy with special devices to help break up mucus in their lungs.

The Study

  • The exercise tolerance test: walking multiple 10-meter (roughly 33 feet) intervals
  • After study, patients were able to perform seven more 10-meter walking intervals, on average, than they were before completing the exercise regimen
  • All children showed small bumps in pulmonary function tests, but children who increased their exercise capacity by 10 or more walking intervals showed even more noticeable improvement (5 percent or more) in lung function scores
  • On average, patients also reported improved self-image
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Review Date: 
May 6, 2011
Last Updated:
May 13, 2011