Over 2.7 million Americans have AFib. That’s over 1% of the total population in the U.S. This widespread health condition causes irregular heartbeats that could lead to heart failure, stroke, or blood clots.
Since it affects the heart rhythm, many patients think they should drop the active lifestyle. But, just because you have been diagnosed with the condition, it doesn’t mean you should stop exercising for good.
Exercising with AFib is doable; in fact, it is highly recommended.
If you are struggling to put the condition under control and still lead an active lifestyle, you are in for a treat.
We have compiled all the useful info on how to exercise with this condition. You will also discover the best exercises that will work with your current health state. Here is everything you need to know about training and AFib.
How Does Exercising With AFib Affect Heart Rate?
A lot of patients with this condition are afraid of physical activity. Engaging in anything that might trigger an episode can pose a massive threat to their cardiovascular health. While it’s true that there are plenty of triggers that could contribute to AFib symptoms, exercising doesn’t have to be one of them.
Based on reports from the American College of Cardiology, it’s possible to stay physically active and live with AFib. As long as you find the right exercise, you will always be on the right track.
Research shows that individuals with the condition who regularly exercise, experience:
- Reduced number of episodes
- Improved quality of living
- Less need to visit the hospital
Although exercising speed up the heart rate, it makes the cardiovascular system stronger.
Patients who are regularly physically active have a reduced chance of death from heart problems. The reason for that is relatively simple. Workouts decrease stress, manage weight, and improve mood. They also harden the blood vessels, which makes the heart healthier and stronger.
What Are the Ideal Exercises for People With AFib?
Exercising with AFib takes a lot of planning and extra precaution. First, it is crucial to focus on moderate or light workouts that won’t exhaust the body and cause exertion, advises the CDC.
Exertion can be a serious issue for the heart rate. It can accelerate breathing, cause muscle fatigue, and sweating. This is not healthy for the heart.
The key is not to go above 50%-70% of your max heart rate.
You can get the right measurements if you subtract your age from the number 220. To put it in perspective, let’s say you have 40 years. The max heart rate is around 180, and in that case, it’s essential to do an exercise that won’t increase it to over 126 bpm.
With the variety of available devices and apps, you can now easily track heart rate anywhere including during workouts. They can quickly notify you when they register a sudden increase in your heart rate. Thereby, allowing you to take control over AFib.
The Most Practical Exercises for People With the Condition
- Brisk walking
- Tai Chi
- Light lifting
For patients on beta-blockers, the Borg RPE scale is the safer measuring alternative. The medications will be keeping the heart rate pretty low. So, they will be prone to exertion. In this case, the goal should be to maintain the exertion around 11-14 on a 1 to 20 scale while exercising.
Note: Stay away from activities that will put a strain on the heart, like heavy lifting, resistance, or strength training. It’s best to focus on less taxing exercises.
How to Stay Safe When Exercising With AFib?
To keep the heart and body safe, you should have a couple of things in mind.
1) Set realistic goals for yourself – if you try to overachieve, you are more likely to exhaust your body and damage the heart.
2) Stay hydrated – during exercises, the body will use up all the water in the system and will constantly need replenishments. Dehydration can be a serious issue for cardiovascular health, which is why drinking plenty of water should be your go-to choice.
3) Be vigilant – many people don’t recognize the first signs of AFib. So, if you start to feel dizzy or lightheaded from exercising, you should take a step back and relax. Let the body get its composure back. Once you’ve relaxed, you can always continue where you left off.
4) The weather is another problem for patients with AFib – if it’s too hot outside, you expose yourself to extreme heat. If you notice any drastic weather changes, it is best to exercise inside rather than outside.
5) Medications – some patients might require blood thinners to keep their health under control. If you too are taking these meds, you need to wear additional protective gear to keep yourself from getting hurt.
As you can see, there is no need to avoid physical activity with AFib. It’s all about monitoring your health and staying active. Just steer clear of the triggers, and you can boost your cardiovascular health over time.