Rosemary Conley’s Health Struggles and Advocacy for Bronchiectasis Awareness

Rosemary Conley’s Health Struggles and Advocacy for Bronchiectasis Awareness


Former fitness guru Rosemary Conley, known for her low-fat recipes and exercise techniques popular in the eighties and nineties, is now facing her own health challenges.

At the age of 76, Rosemary resides in Leicestershire with her husband Mike.

Unfortunately, she is battling bronchiectasis and arthritis, leading to recurrent chest infections.

One of the distressing symptoms she experiences is coughing up a significant amount of phlegm daily.

Rosemary believes there is a ‘conspiracy of silence’ surrounding bronchiectasis, possibly due to the lack of awareness about the illness.


Reflecting on her diagnosis, Rosemary expressed the fear she felt when confronted with an incurable illness that many are unfamiliar with.

Comparing it to asthma, she noted that while asthma also lacks a cure, people generally understand its severity.

Rosemary’s rise to fame came with her 1988 book, “Rosemary Conley’s Hip and Thigh Diet,” which became a bestseller.

She established a fitness empire that rivaled Slimming World and Weight Watchers, until low-fat diets fell out of favor and carbohydrates were stigmatized.

Despite her health challenges, Rosemary remains dedicated to her well-being.


She continues to engage in physical activities, attending the gym twice a week, participating in ballet lessons, and taking daily walks.

Having recently undergone a partial knee replacement, she diligently adheres to physiotherapy sessions.

Rosemary’s history with health issues dates back to her childhood, as she was born with underdeveloped lungs and spent much of her early years in the hospital.

Understanding Bronchiectasis: A Common Yet Unfamiliar Condition

Bronchiectasis, a condition affecting the bronchi – the branches that carry air deep into the lungs, is the underlying cause of Rosemary’s health challenges.

In bronchiectasis, these bronchial branches widen abnormally, leading to the buildup of mucus.


This results in persistent coughing, shortness of breath, wheezing, and the production of phlegm.

Patients are also at a heightened risk of infections due to impaired bacteria clearance.

Despite its prevalence, bronchiectasis is often unheard of.

Approximately one in every 2,000 hospital admissions is related to bronchiectasis, and recent research indicates that more than one in 100 British pensioners are affected by it.

The condition tends to manifest in middle age, years after a prior chest infection, such as whooping cough or pneumonia.


Tragically, bronchiectasis can lead to fatalities, with about 1,000 individuals in England and Wales succumbing to it annually.

Rosemary’s Advocacy and Personal Journey

Rosemary Conley’s journey to adulthood was riddled with challenges, as doctors initially doubted her survival due to underdeveloped lungs.

However, she defied the odds and persevered.

To protect her health, Rosemary continues to wear masks during travel to prevent cold and virus exposure, while also avoiding smoke and air pollution.

Determined to increase awareness about bronchiectasis, Rosemary admitted that she was unfamiliar with the condition at the time of her diagnosis.


In a 2017 interview, she emphasized the significance of maintaining a slim figure, underscoring her personal commitment to exercise and controlled eating habits.

Having transitioned from struggling with her weight to viewing food as mere fuel, Rosemary’s dedication to her well-being is evident as she strives to both look and feel good.

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