If you rev up your heart rate there is a chance that you can trigger atrial fibrillation. Due to this, many people question if you can exercise safely with atrial fibrillation. In fact, exercise and physical activity is usually good for people with AFib.
Before beginning any new exercise routines, you should consult your cardiologist to see if you need any tests before you begin. Don’t worry about this though, consultants will clear most people with AF to start exercising right away.
If you have AFib, jumping into exercise too quickly could cause additional symptoms. Instead start of with a few minutes walking each day and then add a minute or two every week or so.
Your main goals with exercising should be a total of 30 minutes of activity a day, 5 days a week. You want to boost your heart rate and breathe a little faster but nothing drastic.
As with all exercise, ensure that you take some time to warm up and stretch before starting any activity and to cool down and stretch afterwards. Without stretching, you put yourself at risk of injury which can impact your ability to exercise all together so make sure that you take care when you start and end any physical activities.
As your heart rate increases, so does your risk of an AFib event so you need to make sure that your heart rate isn’t too erratic during your workout session. As the medications used to manage AF can slow down your pulse, checking your heart rate may not be very effective. As a rule, workout until you find your exertion level is somewhat hard. This is usually when you are breathing a little bit faster and are working up a slight sweat.
If you still aren’t sure what your heart rate should be before during and after exercise, ask your cardiologist.
Naturally, exercising and increasing your heart rate could cause your symptoms to flare up. If you experience pain, extreme breathlessness or exhaustion whilst exercising, stop immediately and talk to your cardiologist before working out again. You may need tests to make sure you don’t have a new problem.
Some symptom of exercising with AF include:
Its important that you keep your liquid intake up whilst exercising as becoming dehydrated will make your heart work harder and increase the work your heart has to do. If you have fluid restrictions due to a weak or stiff heart, ensure that you are drinking enough water without exceeding your fluid restrictions.
The main tip for exercising with Atrial Fibrillation is to do everything in moderation. Don’t push yourself too hard too soon. Slowly increase your time exercising, keep an eye on your symptoms and most importantly, enjoy yourself.
If you need to discuss your atrial fibrillation with a specialist before exercising, get in touch with Dr Segal to book an appointment.