Cystic Fibrosis and Fitness

by James Richardson
Vertex Education Ambassador, Fitness

In general, people with CF can play any sport or game they enjoy. There are very few activities to avoid, and those include scuba diving, skydiving, bungee jumping, and high-intensity activities at high altitudes.

At high altitudes the air is much thicker and harder to breathe. Those with an enlarged liver or spleen should avoid collision sports such as football, basketball, or soccer.

It is recommended that you talk to someone on you care team before participating in any new exercise or sport.

Effects of CF with Sweat

Cystic fibrosis affects all of the exocrine glands including sweat glands. While the other exocrine glands are responsible for producing the thick, sticky secretions that clog the lungs and pancreas, the sweat glands are different.

In a person with CF, the sweat is a normal consistency but is two to five times saltier than normal. That is why salty skin is one of the first symptoms families notice about a baby with CF.

Because people with CF lose more salt when sweating, it is important to get more salt in the diet during sweaty activities, such as:

  • In hot weather
  • When exercising
  • With a fever

People with cystic fibrosis may need to avoid exercising during very hot weather, in intense sun, or when they have a fever or exacerbation.

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