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Staying healthy when you live with a long-term health condition.
Fifty Two (almost) and Going STRONG. Reproduced with kind permission by Julie Desch. July 2012
She is passionate about all things fitness related. We found her story an inspiration and her deeply honest narrative shows that whatever challenges we live with or problems we may have, these do not have to stop us from reaching high. Power to you Julie!
Julie Desch: "To give you an idea of what I mean by strong, here was my workout today: I squatted my weight twenty times, deadlifted my weight sixteen times, and did ten minutes of swings (225 to be exact) with a 26 pound kettlebell. Throw in a few sets of walking dumbbell lunges and planks for time, and I am very happy to be sitting as I write this article. This was actually a fairly moderate workout for me, as I’m only a few weeks out from being sidelined with pneumonia. And it was after walking the dogs for an hour.
As you might guess, I am a fan of exercise. I’ve discovered that the gym is the place where I am completely in charge of my body. Cystic Fibrosis (CF) has no input regarding how strong I can be. Yes, it does hamper me a bit on the treadmill, and I do get a bit winded during those swings, but I can bench press and squat and dead lift with anyone my size, regardless of her CFTR status [the gene mutation which causes CF] .
When living with a disease that has taken my sister, my brother and many friends, I am empowered by staying as strong as I can for as long as I can. So I may take it to an extreme at times and I will admit to being downright obsessive about training programs and exercise research. But this is my coping mechanism, and I’m sticking to it!
As a physician and one who follows CF research fairly obsessively, I can go on and on with the reasons why it is essential to exercise as part of your daily CF routine.
To briefly summarize, regular exercise for those with CF can improve your quality of life, increase your ease of doing every day tasks, strengthen your bones, improve your appetite, increase your fitness level, decrease the rate of decline of your lung function, improve your mood, decrease depression or anxiety if you are prone, and help you clear mucus from your lungs. It also will likely help you sleep better, and may diminish the sense of breathlessness that accompanies lung disease. That’s just off the top of my head. I’m sure there are other reasons that have slipped my mind. Exercise is great for those who don’t have CF as well!
As a trainer and wellness coach, I can assure you that the cysters and fibros that I have helped establish and maintain an exercise program have benefitted immensely from the process. They have loved it. They are amazing heroes who don’t let CF control them either. Cystic fibrosis may knock them down occasionally, but they get back up again. It becomes a part of life that they just don’t want to lose.
As a double delta F508 [one type of the mutations which causes CF] who is still using my very own lungs to suck air while swinging that kettlebell and pumping iron, I know that my exercise obsession is a huge factor in my success so far. I hope this article will inspire you to think of how to make daily exercise a part of your long and healthy life."
Activ8rlives says: As we approach the London 2012 Games, hearing stories from people like Julie makes us mindful that many of life’s heros never win medals in grand stadiums, carry Olympic torches or get invited onto chat shows. They live extraordinary lives by overcoming the obstacles which have been placed in front of them and by doing what for so many of us, are the day-to-day ordinary things. They are great role models and extraordinary champions. An inspiration to us all.
Julie shares her experiences, strength and hope on her blog: http://www.sickandhappy.com