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Can I Exercise with AFib?

Exercising with AFib

Living with atrial fibrillation can be difficult. Even once normal rhythm is restored either through medication, ablation, or other procedures, patients are weary of resuming an exercise program. However, exercise is something you can do with AFib. In fact, exercise may help reduce AFib episodes as well as strengthen your heart.

Exercises with Atrial Fibrillation

Before you do any exercise program, please do consult with your doctor as to the level of exertion you should begin with. Once you feel that you can do some exercise (depending on your AFib symptoms) and are cleared by your doctor, start with a low impact work out program.
Make sure you stretch your muscles and are hydrated. Then, depending on how you are feeling, just do some walking for about 10 minutes. This will allow your heart to adjust to doing an activity. Do this stretching and walking routine for several days until you feel up to something more.

Building Up Your AFib Workout

After you have conquered light walking without symptoms of dizziness or shortness of breath, you may be able to progress to something a little more vigorous. You can try such things as:

The point here is getting in a good work out, without overdoing it with your heart. Using exercise equipment such as a stationary bike, elliptical machine or treadmill are perfectly fine.
Lifting light weights can also help. Again, start with low weight, and slowly work your way up over several weeks. Weights will help build up your muscle tone while also aiding your cardiovascular system.
When exercising with AFib, you will want to begin with short periods of 5 to 10 minutes. Again, do not do anything that may make you feel light headed. As you feel stronger, you can gradually add more time to your exercise routine.

Check Your Heart Rate

You will not want to go more than a moderate level on your workout. This means, only about 50 to 70 percent of your maximum heart rate when working out. To calculate this, you need to do a little math, but it is not too hard.
To find your maximum heart rate, subtract your age from 220. If you are 65, your maximum heart rate would be 155 beats per minute (bpm). Since we only want to be at 50 to 70 percent of that maximum, we should shoot for a heart rate of 78 to 108 bpm while exercising. The caveat to heart rate training is if you take medications that slow your heart rate down. In this case, use a perceived exertion scale. 0-nothing at all and 10-maximum effort. Find an effort around a 5 or an effort that is labored, but you can still talk.
To help track your heart rate during exercise, you may want to get a fitness tracker. These can be watch-like devices such as a Fitbit or even the Apple Watch.

Why Exercise with AFib

If you are able to exercise with AFib, it can help you out in the long run. We know that it can be difficult, but it will make you stronger. Exercise will help you ward off and shed the extra weight that many AFib patients tend to carry. Additionally, working out can prevent heart failure from worsening.
If you are looking for good, moderate exercise programs, take a look at our classes. We have everything from Tai Chi to Yoga and Silver Sneakers cardio. If you have any questions, give us a call at 303-744-1065.

South Denver Cardiology
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