Swimming, breathing with cystic fibrosis easier at gym

Swimming, breathing with cystic fibrosis easier at gym

Mother and daughter cope daily with disease

Kathy Land, a cystic fibrosis patient, describes her disease as like “trying to breathe underwater.”

But thanks to a grant from the Cystic Fibrosis Lifestyle Foundation, which will fund a 14-month membership to a Lakewood fitness center, breathing just got a little easier.

Land and her 10-year-old daughter, Samantha, who also has the disease, need the gym membership to help maintain their lung capacity.

Cystic fibrosis is a life-threatening genetic disease that primarily affects the lungs and digestive system. It is caused by a defective gene and its protein product that cause the body to produce thick, sticky mucus which not only clogs the lungs but also obstructs the pancreas, making it difficult for the body to break down food and absorb nutrients.

According to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, an estimated 30,000 children and adults in the United States have the disease, with 1,000 new cases diagnosed each year.

While most patients are diagnosed by the age of two, it wasn’t until Land was 27 that doctors confirmed she had cystic fibrosis.

By that time, Samantha was already born. Six months later, the baby was diagnosed.

Now Samantha takes 31 medications a day and had part of her right lung removed as a result of the damage from the disease.

Keeping the 40 percent of lung capacity that remains is critical for the young girl who enjoys playing hide and go seek, tag and swimming.

CF1That is why Land decided to find a gym for them to join.

Because of Samantha’s young age, most of the facilities Land contacted turned her away. That’s when she contacted the owner of Lakewood’s Anytime Fitness, Darrell McKay, who not only welcomed the mother and daughter, but went as far as to write the grant to fund their membership.

McKay said helping Land and her daughter was a good fit with the gym’s mission to help others improve their health.

“We feel exercise can improve the quality of life of anyone,” said McKay. “Our passion is to help people improve their lives and feel better.”

Although they have only been working out at the gym for a month, Land said she has already noticed an improvement in her back pain and that working out in an air-conditioned facility makes breathing much easier for her and her daughter.

CF2Glenn Morgan, the clinical trainer at Anytime Fitness who works with Land and Samantha, said that while the objective is to help them increase their lung capacity, it’s equally important to monitor the intensity of their workouts to make sure they don’t overdo it.

Morgan, who has the health histories and recommendations from Land and Samantha’s doctors, said his goal is to work them up to a full-body routine to train all the major muscle groups within the parameters of their disease.

“It’s a fine line,” explained Morgan. “I have to be very aware. They have to be very aware. It can lead to an asthma attack. We have to find a happy balance.”

For now, that happy balance is having fun while improving their health.

“It gets difficult,” said Land. “We come in and have fun though.”

By Lara Patangan
Resident Community News

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