Friday, April 8, 2011

Is Exercise for CFers Different?

I've had this question posed to me more than a hand full of times both on Facebook and CysticLife, so I thought I would answer it here as well as pull some quotes by other very knowledgeable cysters and fibros. The following question was posed by a fellow cyster and to be honest, I was a little bit shocked by her doctors attitude (although he may have had the best of intentions):

Okay, so whenever I think of excersize, I typically think of going to the gym, riding a bike, jogging, or doing something with a little sweat suit on. Basically, getting strenious excersize. So I told my doctor that I get totally short of breath when I do things like that, and on a bad day it's even hard for me to climb up my stairs at my apartment. So he told me that excersize for us, is basically something that gets your airways stretching and get's you huffing a little hard... And that if we are excersizing to the point of us laying on the floor sucking on our inhalers (which I have done, lol), we are actually probably doing more damage than we are helping ourselves. What do you guys do as far as a 'light load' of excersize, that gets your airways flowing, but doesn't make you totally SOB and have to sit down? I find it hard... Maybe it's just me.

The following was my answer to her:

I think it's important to understand that EVERYBODY sucks a little wind when exercising, especially those of us who are out of shape. I agree with your doctor to a point, but I myself wouldn't accept not striving to exercise like everybody else.

When I recommitted myself to exercising, last year, I couldn't jog 1 minute with out stopping. I got on a running program and in 10 weeks ran 3 miles. It's important to go at your own pace, but to also set yourself a goal and then set out to accomplish this.

It's also important to point out the benefits of exercise to lung health. Last January my FEV1 was in the 20's, I then recommitted to exercise and by October had my FEV1 up to 68%, the highest since 2005!!!

That's what I think is SO important for every cyster and fibro out there to understand, Exercise is tough for everyone, especially when just starting out. Think about it, why else would there be so many people out there that say exercise is their New Year's resolution, EVERY year. It's tough. It's NOT EASY to stick with. And yes, it may be tougher for those of us with CF, but the case can easily be made that it's also more valuable. I've never ever met a fellow CFer that regretted exercising. It's quite the opposite, they're ecstatic. To put it simply, do you find more joy when you accomplish something that took no work or sacrifice or something that took a ton of it?

I like how this fellow fibro put it (who by the way is training for an Ironman):

Even though we have CF we can still do anything anybody else can do our training is just going to be a little harder and we'll have to train a little longer, but we can do it. The biggest thing you have to learn is patience when it comes to endurance with exercise it takes us a little longer to build it up. Stick with exercise, it will only benefit you.

He's so right. We CAN do anything if we set our mind to it. It's often times just a case of setting a goal and doing absolutely everything to accomplish that goal. Don't let setbacks discourage you either, use them as motivation to propel you forward on your mission. Listen, there's days that I just can't drag my lazy butt out to run. It happens. But when it does, I make sure to really step it up the following days to "make up" for the time lost. We have a tendency to allow one bump in the road become an impossible obstacle and it doesn't have to be that way. Get over the bump and then put the pedal to the metal.