Friends Myles Greensmith and Ron Fish are keen advocates of exercise and pulmonary rehabilitation. They first met at the Papworth Support Group some five years ago.
The fitter your body is, the better you feel both physically and mentally. If you feel better mentally then your whole well being is more positive and you won’t dwell on the negative sides of the disease
Myles and Ron also both cycle - as a sustainable means of transport as well as an exercise opportunity. Myles cycled most of his working life in Cambridge, and worked on a project to initiate safer cycling routes for the City Council. During Ron’s apprenticeship days he would cycle from job to job in London with his tool bag on the handlebars.
How do Ron and Myles stay motivated to exercise with PF?
Both Ron and Myles are motivated to make the best use of the lung function and capacity they have. To do this they know their bodies needs to be in the best possible condition so their muscles can perform with the level of oxygen his lungs can provide. If muscles are allowed to weaken then they require more oxygen, so the demand is increased putting more pressure on the heart.
They share their experiences of keeping fit when living with PF
“Now it is very easy to not to do the exercise, saying I don’t feel up to it this week but I then remember what our Physio tells us - you lose all the benefit of exercise in just two weeks so it’s important to keep it going. There’s also the social side of a group class with lots of banter and leg-pulling which cheers you up if you’re feeling down that week. I generally come out of the session feeling physically tired but mentally elated and proud of myself.”
“Turning to what I find daunting, the first thing is my limited physical capabilities, I find it very frustrating that I cannot do the amount of manual tasks I used to do and quite often have to leave jobs unfinished for another time. Jobs I would previously do without thinking now have to be planned and timed. Some tasks I just can’t do at all anymore which goes against a lifetime of independence.”
“What spurs me on is that I want to prolong my active life and independence for as long as possible and not become a burden on my family or anyone else and if this means regular exercise then that is what needs to happen.”
‘I’m motivated by various fitness apps which I use to track the number of steps taken a day or miles cycled. I use an Apple Watch to record my cycle rides on an App called Strava. It’s like a social network for athletes and you can keep up with and compare what you’re doing compared to your friends. Runs on the treadmill can also be recorded along with rowing and cycle trips to and from the hospital.”
“Building up muscle strength gives you more duration and less shortness of breath. It will reduce the demands for more oxygen when you exert yourself. Your SATs level and heart rate can improve - even with simple chair based exercises. Little daunts me apart from a heavy rain shower or gale force winds just as I’m setting off to the gym on my bike.
Like Ron, the social interaction and encouragement I get once I arrive encourages me.
“The thought that one day I will not be able to do as much as a result of worsening fibrosis encourages me to do as much as I can now while I am fitter and more able. I am confident that my FVC has not declined as rapidly as it might have otherwise have done as a result of continuing exercise. It has therefore added to my quality of life since I was diagnosed.”