Exercise training resulted in positive physiological benefits such as improved aerobic capacity, muscle strength, and lean muscle mass in children with cystic fibrosis (CF), according to new findings published in Nutrients.

Researchers at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa conducted a systematic review of PubMed, Scopus, and CINHAL, selecting 4 eligible studies out of 924 identified articles. They used the Physiotherapy Evidence Database (PEDro) scale to assess each study’s risk of bias and design quality. PEDro scores for the 4 included studies ranged from 5 to 7 in the “fair” to “good” categories.

The investigators analyzed changes in body mass index (BMI) and other anthropometric measurements such as circumference and lean muscle mass following exercise training in children with CF and compared these measurements with those taken from control groups in the 4 studies.

All of the children with CF ranked below the 25th percentile or at the 50th percentile in weight at baseline prior to initiating the exercise regimens. Exercise training included aerobic exercise in all studies, while 2 studies combined aerobic training with resistance exercise training. Aerobic fitness increased in 3 of the studies, 2 of which reported increases over 20%.

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Body mass increased in both the intervention and control groups in 3 of the 4 studies; however, only 1 study involving resistance exercise training demonstrated statistically significant increases in lean muscle mass between the intervention and control groups. None of the 4 studies demonstrated significant decreases in BMI, lean muscle mass, or circumferential measurements in children with CF, indicating unaltered nutritional status and body composition.

“Clinicians should counsel patients that are concerned about the speculative effects of exercise on their nutritional status and body composition that exercise is not detrimental and may even improve their nutritional status,” the authors said.

“The CF care team should continue to rely on the CF care team’s registered dietitian to provide appropriate individualized nutrition care plans that compliment exercise regimens to help patients meet their personal goals related to body weight and body composition.”


Nicolson WB, Bailey J, Alotaibi NZ, Krick S, Lowman JD. Effects of exercise on nutritional status in people with cystic fibrosis: a systematic review. Nutrients. 2022;14(5):933. doi:10.3390/nu14050933