Exercise & Cystic Fibrosis

Exercising helps with overall well-being

Regular physical activity should be a central part of cystic fibrosis (CF) management for everyone living with the condition, regardless of age and severity.1 However, this should be done in moderation and any new activities should be discussed with your doctor or nurse to make sure they are safe and appropriate for you.

Activities that increase your heart rate and improve muscle strength are thought to be particularly beneficial for people with CF. These might include running, football, swimming or dancing.2

However, some sports may not be suitable for people with CF. For example activities involving high altitudes (e.g. skiing), or pressure on the lungs (e.g. scuba diving) can be risky.3


When considering a new sporting activity, remember to discuss this with your doctor or nurse first, and think about how the activity will fit into your life and routine. Physical activity that is both convenient and fun will be easier to stick to.


  • Any physical exercise is better than none.
  • Choose something you will enjoy, ideally that includes cardiovascular exercise
  • Consider exercise activities you can do with friends and/or family to help support and motivate you.
  • Exercise can be spread throughout the day, it does not have to be all at once.
  • Activities that you do for 15 to 30 minutes are best. Start your exercise programme slowly and build it up gradually.
  • If your body is telling you an exercise is too hard, or too much, slow down or stop.
  • Plan your medication, eating and fluid intake around your exercise.

Check the weather when you want to exercise

People with CF need to take care when the weather is hot and humid because it can cause heat stress. In CF, more salt is lost in sweat so drinking isotonic drinks (drinks that contain electrolytes - chemical salts such as sodium and chloride ions that help your cells work) to replace salt is important.

    1. Smyth A, et al. European Cystic Fibrosis Society Standards of Care: Best Practice guidelines. J Cyst Fibros. 2014;13:S23–S42.

    2. John Hopkins Cystic Fibrosis Centre website.

    3. Hirche T, et al. Travelling with cystic fibrosis: Recommendations for patients and care team members. J Cyst Fibros. 2010;9:385-399.

    Related resources

    Information placed on this digital platform is not intended as a substitute for consultation with your healthcare professional.
    If you have any questions about the content on this site please speak to a member of your CF care team.

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