Listen up: Scientists in Japan may be onto something big. They’ve discovered there is a significant correlation between the amount of fat vs. muscle that people have and how it affects lung function in people who have idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF).
In the study, 44 IPF patients were monitored and tested for their ability to breathe. They were given pulmonary function tests that measured their capacity to walk for six minutes (if they could even do it). And they learned that the taller a person was and the more muscle mass they had, the better their lung capacity was. It’s that simple. It also means that with additional muscle mass, their bodies didn’t rely as heavily on lung function, because the developed muscles functioned at a higher level. Less effort was needed to walk and perform daily tasks, etc. You can read more about the findings here.
It’s the kind of simple truth that our mommies, nannies, nuns, and gym teachers used to say: exercise makes a difference. It just does. Plus, exercise, is something that is available to everyone and it’s free. But I also respect the fact that when you’re diagnosed with a serious illness like IPF, exercise may not be top of mind because you’re more concerned about WANTING to simply breathe—not having to struggle with it.
So… where and when in your journey, do you have the conversation with your doctors about exercise?
I don’t know if a pulmonologist is going to push the topic to someone who maybe has had a sedentary lifestyle, but may be more inclined to have the conversation with someone who has been active. I’ve talked with a few people I know who’ve had IPF for a number of years now. Many of them are now on oxygen and they are still very mobile, but they’ve really slowed down and they’re not actively exercising. I don’t blame them. But after reading this study, i’m going to encourage them to grab their dog and go for a gentle walk.