Tailored exercise programs may improve lung function for young cystic fibrosis patients

Cystic fibrosis is a chronic disease that can cause severe respiratory problems as mucus builds up in the lungs and often requires complicated treatments. But an individualized exercise program may help improve lung function and fitness in children.

Researchers from Johns Hopkins Children’s Center created tailored exercise programs for 58 children age 6 to 16 who had the disease. The study participants were asked about their daily routine and which physical activities they enjoyed, then were given tailored workout suggestions. Those included walking, taking a dance class, playing with a Wii, or playing a sport such as basketball.

At the beginning and end of the study children were given an exercise tolerance test in which they walked several 10-meter intervals. After completing the two-month exercise program they were able to do an average of seven more intervals than at the start. Researchers also noted an uptick in self-image among the participants as well.

Those who boosted their exercise capacity even more--by 10 or more 10-meter walking intervals--saw a 5% or more improvement in lung function scores.

The study authors noted that more research may be necessary to ascertain whether such exercise programs can be used to improve the health of cystic fibrosis patients. But lead author Dr. Shruti Paranjape, a pediatric pulmonary specialist at Johns Hopkins was optimistic in a statement in a news release.


“Exercise, even when informal and unstructured, not only appears to improve lung status in children with CF, but goes a long way toward benefiting their overall health, self-perception and emotional well-being,” he said.

The study was presented recently at the annual meeting of the Pediatric Academic Societies in Denver.