Information for children, teenagers and families


The role of exercise in promoting and maintaining health in CF is well established. Exercise is a fun way to engage with your child by incorporating keeping well and getting fit into a lively and active family lifestyle. It’s never too soon to start! From new born to young adult your CF Specialist Physiotherapist will guide you and advise on ways to structure a daily exercise routine and progress this according to your child’s development and interests.

What are the benefits of Exercise in Cystic Fibrosis?


  • Helps to promote clearance of any sputum and make daily chest physiotherapy easier and more effective.
  • Improves cardiovascular fitness and helps to maintain and improve lung function.
  • Encourages children to take part in sport with their friends and the whole family, and to continue this beyond childhood.
  • Helps to build strong bones and muscles, develop good posture and a positive body image.
  • Improves appetite, general mood and concentration.

At every CF Clinic the specialist Physiotherapist will discuss your child’s weekly exercise routine and help with new ideas to keep it enjoyable and fun. Any regular activity your child enjoys and which helps them to get out of breath and a bit hot and sweaty is a great way to get started. An article from Great Ormond Street Hospital explaining the benefits of exercise in CF and how include exercise in your daily routine can be found here.

Exercise Ideas

Babies and Infants

Bouncing on your lap or on a gym ball

Rolling and stretching exercises on a play mat (time this before your daily chest physiotherapy)

Baby massage classes


2 years and upwards

Bouncing on a trampoline

Tumble tots

Dancing and singing

Lots of outside play- running and jumping ideally every day for at least an hour

Junior team games eg ‘little kickers’

Junior martial arts

Lots of family activities-the more energetic the better!

8 years and upwards

Team sports

Cross country running




Swimming, athletics, gymnastics, dance (ballet/jazz)


Running-join a local running club

All team sports

Introduce upper body weight training

Fitness suite at local gym/school (ask your Physio to set up a personal program for your child)

Swimming, dance, Zumba, martial arts, Pilates, Yoga

Exercise in Hospital

During an in patient stay in hospital the CF Physiotherapy team will aim to offer a daily exercise session (Mon-Fri) in addition to your child’s morning and afternoon airway clearance sessions. Exercise may be in the gym, in the play area or in the summer in the park with the Therapy Assistant or CF Physiotherapist. This is an important way of optimizing treatment whilst in hospital.

Segregation of CF patients is adhered to at all times to avoid any risk of cross infection in communal areas during exercise.

Spin bikes, weights, exercise bands and gym balls may be used in older children’s rooms to support and encourage individual training programs prior to discharge.

Exercise at Annual Review

From age 7 your child will perform a standardized exercise test (shuttle or ‘bleep test’) to assess their fitness every year. This provides an excellent opportunity to discuss ways of progressing their exercise/training routines over the forthcoming year as well as providing a benchmark of their fitness level annually. This test will be continued following transition to adult services. Please make sure that your child wears comfortable clothes and suitable footwear to CHOX for their review.

Exercise Advice

The CF Physiotherapy Team are keen to promote the importance of exercise at nursery, at school and in local exercise facilities as well as at home with the family. Please email or call to ask for advice or discuss a visit to provide support for your child if you feel this would be helpful.

The contacts page will let you know who is in you local CF physio team. The CF physio team in Oxford are happy to be contacted by any of the network families and patients:
Oxford CF Physiotherapy Team
Clare Williams
Beth Doyle
Sam Bird
email: Paed.cf@nhs.net

Useful links for more exercise information

Standards of Care and Good Clinical Practice for the Physiotherapy Management of Cystic Fibrosis. Second edition. June 2011. Click here

UK physical activity guidelines. Click here