Working out with cystic fibrosis – Interview with strength training blogger Carola Landerer. Part 1

Carola Landerer does strength training and blogs about it. What is unusual about this is that the 24-year-old has cystic fibrosis (CF). Breathing and exercising are more difficult for Carola than for healthy people. Despite this, she enthusiastically lifts weights four times a week. For the PARI blog, she describes how she went from being unenthusiastic about sports to becoming a sports blogger and how exercising eases the signs of CF. Part 1.

PARI blog: Carola, you do strength training on a regular basis despite your cystic fibrosis. How did you get involved with this type of exercise?

Carola Landerer: In 2016, my cardiologist told me my heart was too weak and treatments with even more medications was not appropriate. He recommended cardio workouts which scared me because until then I had always shied away from exercising. I got a prescription and started at a rehab centre with a combination of endurance and muscle-building training. Because I, like many people with CF who haven’t been working out, did not have much muscle mass, my training plan not only involved cardio, but also strength training. Strength training was a lot of fun for me and I quickly saw results and progressed. So, I have stayed with it and since then have worked out regularly at the gym. 

PARI blog: How have you been able to be successful with strength training in a way you weren’t with endurance training?

Carola Landerer: I just can’t keep up with endurance training due to my lungs. For example, I need to take a break after jogging for only one minute, which isn’t exactly motivating. I can go for a walk or ride an e-bike, but I don’t consider that exercise; with strength training I can easily manage a 60 to 90-minute workout. Since I started doing strength training I have felt much better. I don’t get infections as often and cough less. In the evening after work I don’t feel so wiped out, I sleep well at night, and get through the day without getting fatigued on and off.  

PARI blog: Working out despite cystic fibrosis – does that take a lot out of you?

Carola Landerer: I need to give you a little background to answer that. Before, in general I found exercise to be much too taxing. I hated doing sports in school because I was always the last one to finish at running and I couldn’t keep up with my healthy classmates. For the same reason, I avoided field trips that involved hiking because I was always afraid I would fall behind and end up coughing a lot. But as I now know, this avoidance strategy was wrong, because exercise requires practice. You don’t know how to play an instrument the first time you pick it up, and it’s the same with exercise, you have to practice so you get better and your body does its part. Of course, having a lung disease is a hurdle when exercising, but with training you can improve your performance and reach your health and fitness goals. 

In Part 2 you can read how Carola Landerer uses nebuliser therapy to help with her workout. 

Note: The statements made in the interview are the individual views of the interviewee. They do not necessarily reflect the PARI view or the general state of science.

An article written by the PARI BLOG editorial team.

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