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British Lung Foundation
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Bronchiectasis and running

Hello, having recently been diagnosed with Bronchiectasis I am finding it very confusing to know how best to manage my condition. My consultant has advised that I continue with running as much as possible as this is generally good for my lungs however I am currently experiencing a chest infection and I'm wondering if running might be counterproductive? I feel pretty tired however otherwise ok and my peak flow is fine. I haven't yet seen the physio however I have been referred.

Any advice would be very welcome!

Thank you

16 Replies

Hello and good morning, As far as I was aware that you could continue to exercise with eg. a cold but not with a chest infection. - BUT I am not medical just care for my husband with severe COPD. Perhaps you should ring the BLF helpline and ask the nurses what they think - better to be on the safe side. Take care, wishing you a speedy recovery, lots of love TAD xx


Thank you TAD

I somehow think that this kind of infection is different than the 'normal' chest infection as I don't really have systemic symptoms, perhaps as it's related to the condition?

Anyway, that's good advice, I'll try phoning the helpline..

all the best x


I have had this since I was a child in those days it was called lower lung sepsis but with exercise it is manageable the best thing is to get your GP to refer you to either a respiratory specialist who in turn can refer you to the respiratory physio for 6 weeks they will teach you tricks and routines to follow daily the main thing being is to try and keep the lung/s clear of any gunge and that is life with your condition I am afraid try and stay well as flare ups can and do occur after 3-4 on the trot my doctor has at last given me a rescue package of antibiotics and steroids. This is only to be used in the last extreme and you must notify your doctor when you start your rescue pack (1) It needs to be replaced (2) He/she may want to see you or want a sputum sample from you.

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Thanks ant64.

I have been seen by a consultant who has referred me to a physio so I'm waiting for that appointment. I've spoken to the GP who has started me on antibiotics (for the nth time this year) and have sent in a sputum sample.

It's good to hear that the condition can be managed for many years as I've been pretty worried about deterioration, I'm 44 and have only just been diagnosed after years of symptoms.

I do still wonder if it's safe to exercise during an exacerbation? Will I make it worse or find it harder to recover? I've done 2 half marathons this year while being unknowingly infected with various bacteria. At least now I am getting the right treatment.


Hi there and welcome. The mantra with bronchiectasis is 'if you don't use it you lose it'

I have had bronchiectasis since I was 3 and am now 64. When I was six we found a wonderful consultant whose methods were considered to be way off the wall. antibiotics given through oxygen, (nebulised) physio to teach me to breathe and get the gunk up and exercise exercise exercise. I was marched up cliff paths, forced on to netball pitches and thrown into swimming poole. How I hated those ashma kids who were allowed to sit out of games sessios.

result, a normal life despite extensive area of bronchiectasis. Given that treatment for bronchiectasis is still not what it should be owing to governmental and medical emphasis on copd ( they get the money) looking after yourself is very important.

Yourbronchiectasis did not begin on the day that you were diagnosed with it. you had probably been living and running with it for years.

Listen to your body. If you have an exacerbation and need to take antibiotics lay off the running. Bronchiectasis can make you very debilitated so it is important to get the balance between keeping it working and being kind to yourself when needed.

Good luck, I am sure that you will be fine and happy running!


Thanks very much for your reply Stillstanding63.

I am very keen to exercise as I find that it keeps me well in every respect. This year I seem to have been taking antibiotics continually and have infection that just keeps on popping up again - Haemophilis Influenzae. I feel that if I wait until I'm cleared of infection before exercising properly again then I definitely will lose it! I have indeed been living and running with chest infection for years but now that I know the harm that is caused by these bacteria I'm afraid to do anything that might compromise my ability to fight them off. I suppose what I'm trying to say is that I have had non stop exacerbation this year therefore there hasn't been any 'clear' time within which it would be appropriate to exercise, I've therefore just carried on running as normal and am now wondering if this is the cause of the continual infection not clearing.


The infection isn't clearing because they are either giving you the wrong antibiotic or the wrong dose. The bug you have was my enemy when I was young. It has been pseudomonas since the 1980s which is a real devil. it is a constant chase to find the right antibiotic. I always have bugs in my lungs but I know when one is taking over. Getting the sputum up is absolutely crucial. Check that your consultant actually knows about bronchiectasis and you will probably have to be pro active with your GP. The problem with doctors is that they don't like to admit that they know very little about something and from where I stand now I can tell you that most of them know zilch about bronchiectasis. To be fair we are all different. Some of us with extensive damage do very well over the lung term and some quickly become invalids in body and mind. I do believe that the exercise, healthy lifestyle and positive approach to living with the condition, not 'suffering from' it makes the difference. You are winning already because of your approach but the professionals need to be kicked into touch to give you the right medication. Find out exactly what your consultant specialises in, ring his/her secretary and tell them that you need to be seen as exacerbation is not clearing up over months. I don't know what antibiotic or what dose you have been given but most GPs are frightened to prescribe anything like the dose or length of course that is needed. I know that this must seem very daunting when you are exhausted by constant infection. Unfortunately it is the way of it but knowing that you are taking charge does help. All the best.


Had it all my life Lollybre. Just get on with your life as normal. It should not inhibit you from doing most things. I was an idiot when young and took up smoking which of course made my condition a lot worse, but I have still led a normal life. Look after yourself, keep exercising, keep warm in the winter and obviously stay away from people with coughs and colds and stay out of dusty places. Most of all, don't think about it too much and you'll be fine!


fantastic reply!


Thank you all!

I certainly have not been treated properly for most of this year however the last time that I saw my consultant she gave me x2 weeks worth of co amoxiclav (625? x3 a day) and x2 weeks worth of clarithromycin (500 mg x2 a day). This cleared things wonderfully well for about a week then I developed a horrendous sinus infection (also have chronic sinusitis..of course!) and within another week my lungs were at it again. So, the GP this week prescribed 1 week of the same meds again and sent off a sample.

The consultant has referred me to the bronchiectasis specialist consultant/clinic, I checked that out today :-). I firmly believe in keeping positive and living as normal a life as possible. My biggest gripe at the moment is rushing from pillar to post with endless samples/prescriptions etc, only for it all to happen again and again, all while I'm working a full time job. However, I know it could be much much worse..


Hello lollybre33, Not much more I can add to all the other comments, but you will get there in the end and find the antibiotic that will completely clear your lungs. I experienced the same as you after being diagnosed and all my g.p. would say is I don't know what is wrong with you! Eventually found a cons. who was willing to try other antibiotics and now have my old life back. My saviour was a course of Azithromycin for 3 months. Been off it 11 weeks and still doing fine. Keep nagging and I am sure you will find the right thing for you. Good Luck Barnowl


Hello Lollybre

Like others I've probably had my bronchiectasis most of my life although only diagnosed eight years ago. I have always been very active and a keen runner. I have to say running has been my saviour and it takes a lot to stop me going out. I often pick remote runs as my coughing can be quite embarrassing. I often find the first mile or so can be difficult but usually things get better the further I go.

I tried Azithromycin but had to give it up due to the side effects.

Quite separately in July I had to have o prostate biopsy and to avoid infection was given a three day course of a powerful antibiotic Ciprofloxacin. The effects on my bronchiectasis have been nothing short of miraculous. All symptoms have vanished and I'm running better than for a long time. How long this will last I don't know.

I'm told Cipro can have some very nasty side effects including tendon damage so I'm not keen to take it.

It's clear however that the right treatment can have a great affect. Good luck for the future and keep running.



Hi Pilch

I think that running has also been my saviour until now. In spite of all the infection that I clearly have had for years (mostly untreated) my lung function tests are well within normal limits. You've given me inspiration to keep going!

Interesting about the medication too, I suppose if I keep having recurrences immediately after a course of antibiotics then they'll have to look at other medication ideas.


Thanks for your reply. It's good to hear from a fellow runner although sorry that you are struggling at the moment.

As an example of the unexpected about two years ago I was not going too well and when on a run I was bitten by a rather wild looking dog. My doctor immediately put me on a course of Augmentin. Just like the Cipro my symptoms disappeared but they did slowly come back after about three months. I did try Augmentin again later but it didn't seem to have the same effect next time around. The whole thing is rather a mystery.

Best wishes



Hi I have Bronchiectasis too and I try to carry on with my exercise regime if I can, however, if you are feeling tired, run down and generally unwell I would say maybe you should be kind to yourself until you pick up. I hope you feel better soon. Take care Maximonkey


Thanks for your reply Maximonkey.

I've been feeling much better since starting the most recent antibiotics so have decided to test it out tomorrow evening!

It makes sense not to push it if you're feeling unwell and I think I've become so scared of losing lung function that I find it difficult to stop and take care of myself.


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