Just because you have atrial fibrillation doesn’t mean you have to avoid exercise. Exercise is in fact a very important part of how you can manage your symptoms. Increasing your muscle strength, reducing weight will help keep your heart healthier and reduce the risk of an afib event. Most people should with AF should be able to find a non intensive exercise program that they can do for up to 30 minutes most days of the week.
Here are 8 atrial fibrillation friendly exercises for you to consider. Please remember to speak to a doctor before starting an exercise program.
Walking is one of the best ways for most people with atrial fibrillation to start exercising. As an aerobic exercise walking is an enjoyable and safe exercise that gets the big muscle groups moving in rhythm. Try starting with 10-15 minute session and build up to 30-45 minutes. If you can safely walk 12 miles a week you will start to reduce you “bad” cholesterol levels which is good for your heart health.
If you are ready to up your walking routine, jogging can be a great exercise for atrial fibrillation. Always check with your doctor before starting any exercise program. If your doctor says that jogging is safe for you, 20 miles per week of jogging can boost your overall heart health.
If you’re overweight or have joint pain from arthritis, riding a bike can help you get in shape without putting too much stress on your heart or on achy joints. Whether you work out on a stationary bike indoors or outdoors in the fresh air, cycling can be a lot of fun which will help you stay motivated to stick to your exercise plan.
Swimming is another aerobic heart-healthy activity that won’t stress your joints but to really benefit from swimming you need to be a strong swimmer. If you can’t keep up a comfortable pace for 30 minutes, you may not be getting enough exercise and struggling may bring your heart rate up too much. If swimming is not your thing, you can try water walking or water aerobics.
Yoga is a relaxing and stress free activity that can help ease atrial fibrillation. Studies have shown that taking a yoga class a few times a week can significantly decrease the symptoms of atrial fibrillation and also help with the feelings of anxiety and depression.
For more information about how stress and anxiety impacts atrial fibrillation read our previous blog post here!
Strength training targets your muscles which makes it a great addition to your overall fitness program. Try aiming for a high number of repetitions with low resistance using either low-weight dumbbell or a low-tension band. This type of exercise should be done three days a week on alternating days. Exercise safety is a priority, so check with your doctor first. The wrong type of strength training or doing strength training exercises the wrong way could increase your blood pressure, which is dangerous with atrial fibrillation.
Using a fitness machines give your whole body a workout which can be great for the heart and you don’t have to worry about the weather to use them. Just be sure to check with your doctor before using the machines as you need to be in good shape to use some of the more strenuous machines such as a stair climber or and elliptical trainer.
For those who have had recent heart problems or haven’t exercised in a while, a supervised cardiac rehabilitation exercise program may be the best place to start. These programs willh elp you understand your limits and give you tailored goals that meet your needs.
No matter which of these exercises you try, always put your health and safety first. If you experience chest pain, trouble breathing, or extreme fatigue, stop exercising and call your doctor right away. For more information about atrial fibrillation and exercise safety take a look at our blog. If you have a question or want to speak to a specialist, get in touch.