Do You Experience Exercise Induced AFib?

In this video I discuss exercise tips for patients living with atrial fibrillation.

People everywhere are learning about and using wearable technology to monitor their heart rate while exercising. Even if you don’t yet know about using heart rate monitoring wearable technology, keep moving to stay fit to extend your life. Those with AFib still need to keep moving as a part of living the highest quality of life. What about exercise induced AFib? Doesn’t AFib mean you need to stop exercising because your body’s blood pump no longer functions correctly? Fortunately, no, it doesn’t. Exercising is still an important part of your life’s routine. Fortunately, there is no specific exercise that needs to be avoided when a patient has atrial fibrillation.

What About Exercise Induced AFib?

Each person experiences AFib in his or her own way. This means each person may or may not experience exercise induced AFib while exerting one’s body physically. Knowing what might happen helps you decide how much exercise to do.

Typically, you may tire more easily when you exercise. You may also experience…

  • heart palpitations

  • heart racing

  • blood pressure drops

  • feeling faint

  • dizziness

  • sweating

  • anxiety

  • shortness of breath

Don’t strenuously overdo exercise. Too much exercise can do more harm than good. But, the benefits to exercising with AFib can increase your strength. You can manage weight more easily. Also weight loss can lead to improvements in your AFIb.

Are you a professional or amateur athlete experiencing exercise induced AFib? It seems if you have it, you have it. Sometimes all you can do is monitor your exercise routine and stay in touch with your cardiologist. If one exercise seems to induce AFib episodes, try something else. As always, it’s important to keep your cardiologist in the loop if your AFib gets worse or changes somehow.

General Exercise Recommendations For Those With AFib

If you have been quite sedentary for a while, it’s never too late to start exercising. Start your physical conditioning program by stretching your muscles first. Also, consider doing some low-impact walking for about 10 minutes. This can help your body and your heart adjust to the exercise ahead.

Generally, begin with short intervals of low-impact exercise. If you see these low-impact exercises cause little or no increased AFib episodes, you can then gradually increase the workout length and intensity.

After warming up, consider power walking, jogging, riding an exercise bike, using an elliptical machine or treadmill or hiking. These can be exercises that give you a good workout without overloading your heart. However, always check with your doctor before engaging in an exercise routine.

In this video I discuss how weight loss can improve atrial fibrillation.

Basically, avoid engaging in activities known to raise the risk of causing injury like skiing or outdoor biking unless given clearance by your doctor. Start slow with perhaps 5 – 10 minute, low impact workouts after first stretching and warming up.

Do you take a blood thinner medication? Remember, if you injure yourself, you bleed more heavily.

Considering starting a strengthening program that includes weight lifting? Ask your doctor or a physical therapist to advise you about how much weight is safe for you to lift. Excessive weight lifting can put too much strain on your heart.

Lastly, back to those heart rate trackers and wearable technology, they have become very useful for monitoring heart rate during exercise for many of my atrial fibrillation patients and can help someone get a better gauge of which exercises are better tolerated.