Exercise and IPF: What You Can and Can’t Do

One of the biggest misconceptions around idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis is that once you get the diagnosis, exercise is off the table and there is nothing that you can do to strengthen your body.

However, you can find ways to maintain your normal activities. You don’t have to let the scarring of your lungs force you into a chair or a bed. People have options when it comes to fighting against their idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF).

IPF is the result of scarring on the lungs. Once the scar tissue develops, there is no way to reverse the effects. The scars get in the way of allowing your lungs to properly oxygenate your blood. Not everyone diagnosed with IPF can pinpoint why or how they have this disease. Hence, why it’s considered idiopathic.

Though no cure exists for IPF, there are a few treatment options.

Perhaps the most common treatment is a lung transplant. Patients are also frequently given steroids to suppress the immune system and advice for lifestyle changes that will slow or perhaps even stop the spread of the scarring.

Patients are advised to:

  • quit smoking and being around those who are smoking
  • maintain a healthy weight
  • eat a balanced diet
  • exercise as regularly as possible

Of course, the level of activity will be dictated by many factors, including age, severity of disease, and prior degree of activity to name of few. Patients should ask their doctors about what they can and should do concerning exercise.

Given the suppressed immune system, patients are advised not to spend time with those who are sick. Those with compromised immune systems may contract minor ailments that they normally would have shrugged off without a second thought.

Pulmonary rehabilitation and oxygen theory are sometimes prescribed to go along with the lifestyle changes. These treatments are in place to retain as much lung function as possible thereby providing the best quality of life available.

Though there is no cure for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, there is no reason to give up hope. Innovations are being made all the time. But until then, by incorporating some treatment and lifestyle changes, your quality of life can be maintained.

Learn more about IPF here and share some of your tips for living with IPF in the comments below.


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