Living Life With Pulmonary Fibrosis

An exercise program for patients with pulmonary fibrosis, supervised by an accredited Kinesiologist

What is Pulmonary Fibrosis?

Pulmonary fibrosis (PF) is a lung condition characterized by extensive scarring of the lung. In patients with PF, the lung tissue becomes scarred and stiff, and over time may become more widespread. In turn, patients living with PF will often experience shortness of breath.

Symptoms of PF may include:

  • Shortness of breath, particularly during or after physical activity
  • Spasmodic, dry cough
  • Gradual, unintended weight loss
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Chest discomfort
  • Clubbing, or enlargement, of the ends of the fingers (or sometimes the toes) due to a buildup of tissue
  • Leg pain

Types of Pulmonary Fibrosis:

PF is a category of major respiratory diseases that causes lungs to become thick and stiff over time, group of disease is called interstitial lung diseases (also known as ILD).

Idiopathic fibrosis, a type of fibrosis without any known cause. Example: Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) and idiopathic non-specific interstitial pneumonia (NSIP). IPF more commonly affects people from 50 – 70 years old.

  • IPF is a fast-progressive irreversible evolution and disabling to the adult. The average survival is approximately 3-5 years from diagnosis (1). The diagnosis is often delayed and not reported until advance stages. IPF may affect over 10,000 people in Canada

Unclassifiable pulmonary fibrosis, a type of fibrosis without clear identity.

Hypersensitivity pneumonitis, a type of fibrosis caused by repetitive exposure to an antigen.

Rheumatologic condition and immune diseases can cause inflammation and fibrosis in the lungs.


1. Vainshelboim B. Exercise training in idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis: is it of benefit? Breathe (Sheff). 2016 Jun;12(2):130-8. doi: 10.1183/20734735.006916. PMID: 27408631; PMCID: PMC4933618

Why is exercise important?

Including and targeting the following things in an exercise program can help enhance self-efficacy during, and improve one’s ability to participate in, activities of daily living. It will improve your cardiovascular conditioning and ability of your muscles to use oxygen and may help decrease symptoms of shortness of breath.

  • Posture Training
  • Stability and Fall Prevention
  • Proprioception & Coordination
  • Improve ability to perform daily tasks
  • Agility Training

Being motivated and seeking advice on lifestyle and behaviour change is crucial to a successful exercise program. Understanding of the following topics can have a significant impact on your life and well-being if you’re living with PF.

Exercising safely with Pulmonary Fibrosis

If you are living with pulmonary fibrosis, it is very important to seek medical attention before beginning an exercise program. It may be challenging for you to find motivation to begin an exercise program. It may feel counterintuitive to exercise if you are often out of breath.

WillKin’s kinesiologists pay close attention to each individual exercising with PF. They look at your oxygen saturation before, during and after each exercise. In addition the kinesiologist will use a scale to determine your breathlessness during exercise. Each person responds and feels differently during exercise, therefore the kinesiologist takes note and focuses on multiple values.

Dependent on your level of fitness, the kinesiologist will prescribe exercises accordingly. Most of the exercises will be performed on the chair. The kinesiologist will add breathing techniques and relaxation throughout the session.

Topics covered in the Pulmonary Fibrosis program

  • Pursed lip breathing during exercise
  • Posture training
  • Breaking the Anxiety-Breathlessness Cycle
  • Energy conservation principles
  • The "Healthy Plate" and potential problems to eating right
  • Importance of maintaining an exercise routine (possible barriers)
  • Stability and fall prevention
  • Proprioception and barefoot training
  • Stretching, Range Of Motion (ROM)

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Our team is here to guide you to the best decision, for you.

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COVID-19: In response to the pandemic, WillKin has adapted the delivery of its services by now offering all of its programs remotely.

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