Should exercise stop when AF kicks in?

I do intervals of jogging and walking on the treadmill. About 15 mins in, I get AF during a running section. I immediately go back to very slow walking and then once it passes, I keep on with what I was doing before. Is that stupid? Should I get off the treadmill and have a rest? I'm on verapamil and the episodes feel 'dulled down' now, if that makes sense. Previously during AF I HAD to stop, but now, I can keep moving through an attack. They never last more than a minute or two. I'm 34 and trying to get fit so obviously I don't want to have a stroke because I was trying to power through an AF episode.

16 Replies

  • There are many athletes with AF as we know and they don't stop. Some people actually find that exercise helps them out of an event. My advice would be do what you feel comfortable with and ;listen to your body.


  • 100% agreed. That's precisely what I do. As you say, listen to your body, it will tell you when to stop - AF may be the CAUSE, but it is the EFFECTS that make you need to slow down.

    cheers, Mallet-head

  • We went to the Europe AF day yesterday and there were questions put to the speakers about exercise. Bob's advice about being comfortable is good- one doctor yesterday said he thought the questioner's pulse was too high at 220bpm with exercise and that he should talk to his prescriber about getting a higher dose of rate control drug. Another speaker( different context, not to do with exercise) mentioned that your heart rate would have to be very high for 3 weeks to cause damage!!

    I would talk to whoever is looking after you as your circumstances ( e.g whether anti-coagulated etc) may make a difference to what you should do. Another questioner was told it was alright for him to go climbing ( sensibly)!!

  • Thanks, good advice. I'll just keep on trundling along on the treadmill then. :-)

  • ~I agree with Bob, I know someone who uses exercise to come out of AF.


  • I suffer from PAF, I exercise 6 days a week. During last summer I raced throughout the year, including my first iron man. Over the past 3 years my episodes have decreased, which is a result of becoming fitter.

    Everyone's body is different and how AF effects us is also different. Listen to your body and train smart. When you feel good, push on. When you feel tired, rest.

    A structured training plan will improve your cardiovascular system and your general well being. Which for us can only be positive!

  • Hi Middy, I have just asked this question to AF Cyclist...Are you on medications or regulating by exercise or both...C.

  • I take two doses of 50mg of flecainide daily, however I rarely take my evening dose unless I'm racing. My triggers are stress and alcohol. If I drink, I don't push myself the following days. I prefer to race lone sports like time trails and triathlons. I find them less stressful. I always use a heart monitor, but that's more for my personal records then medical. If any of you guys are interested about fittness, get in touch. I'm on twitter and garmin connect!

  • I have no fear of having a stroke when exercising but I have to stop when I can't breathe and then I carry on again. My body tell me.

  • I am a fit cyclist aged 65 and my cardiologist told me that I can manage periods of AF better because I am fit. Sometimes it is difficult to know when I have AF untill I start something strenuous. The only way I have found to stop bouts of AF, which can last for up to 48 hrs, is to get on my bike and make my heart "kick in" by doing something reasonably strenuous uphill. Normaly kicks in after 30 mins or so.

  • Hi AFCyclist.Could you tell me please whether you are on any medication and if so what...That would be great....Thank You...C

  • I take losartan, which is to "relax" my blood vessels and used to take aspirin, but have just started on warfarin. I have stopped all alcohol which was a trigger.

  • When In the past when in Af I can hardly walk never mind do excersise,


  • It will effect people in different ways. However the fitter you are, the less the effects should be. If you looked at someone with a healthily cardiovascular system their stroke volume (the volume of blood leaving the left ventricular each contraction) would be greater than a less fit person. So when in fast AF the stroke volume would still be greater and should result in less symptoms. Also I believe there has been studies into strengthening the electrical pathways within the heart by exercising. It's worth looking into. I believe we have two options; improve your general well being or learn to live with it. The fitter I have become the less problems I encounter. I'm happy to discuss further, if interested!

  • Thanks Middy, In my case it was far more complicated, too long to go intox

  • Know exactly what you mean Beth about not being able to walk, but my medication has now seemed to turn the volume down on the symptoms and now I can walk slowly throughout an attack. My AF is due to a backwards, enlarged heart from surgery to correct transposition of the great arteries so I'm never going to 'strengthen' my cardiovascular system, I'd just like to be able to give it a little less work to do by being a bit fitter and skinnier!

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