That’s a start. Since 1981, researchers have begun proving the beneficial effects of cardiovascular exercise for cystic fibrosis patients. Several research centers throughout the U.S. now actively promote exercise. Its benefits include increasing cardiorespiratory function and oxygen consumption, and slowing the decline of lung function. But the main benefit may be its role in mobilizing the sputum that collects and hardens in CF patients’ lungs where it becomes a breeding ground for bacteria. By causing that sputum to move, it can be expectorated more easily, thus reducing the risk of infections.
Kaitlyn’s experience echoes the clinical reports. In college, she became less regimented about her treatments. Also, “I dropped off the track and cross-country teams for two years and my lungs got congested,” she says. When she rejoined the team, she noticed that, “The more I ran, the more I needed to clear my lungs.” With Team CF, that need to clear her lungs was even greater, she says, “so cycling encouraged me to do my therapy regularly.”
Team CF is more than just an elite mountain biking team, however. Since its formation in 2009, it has grown to include two regional road racing teams and a club (amateur) team of about 100 members that includes all ages. All wear the Team CF jersey and race independently, although the elite team focuses upon certain key races. They all have the job of creating an awareness that exercise benefits cystic fibrosis patients.