Staying fit with persistent AF/tachycardia

When weeks of symptomatic arrhythmia at a time mean that I'm unable to do very much at all during each episode, I'm aware that I am becoming more and more 'deconditioned', as the physios call it.

Does anyone have any tips on how to keep fitness levels up in the meantime? I would be very interested to know. My allotment and garden have helped me to keep fit in the past, as well as walking everywhere as often as possible, but I feel that at this rate I could end up using a zimmer frame to get about ... lol.

19 Replies

  • When I was in persistent A,F I to found it difficult to do any sort of aerobic exercise, however, I did find yoga beneficial . I had not done any yoga before and was pleasantly surprised how much it helped, especially the breathing aspect. If you think yoga to hard going why not try tai chi, which is not as strenuous.

  • Thank you Ian, I do belong to a Tai Chi group which I've loved going to, but have been unable to even do that for the last couple of months, any exertion makes me out of breath and start to feel unwell.

    When I'm back in rhythm (which is often short-lived now) I feel great and can do lots of activities, it's just the ongoing length of time I'm back in AF etc which is starting to seriously impede my stamina.

  • Have you discussed the possibility of ablation with your EP.

  • Hi, I found an exercise bike great. I was sat down and can go very steady if needed.

  • Great idea, but have nowhere to put one unfortunately.

  • British Heart Foundation could help, I have downloaded several sets of 10 minute sets of exercises​ intended for people with limitations, just have to push myself to do them as I am seriously deconditioned 😓

  • Thanks Buffafly, that's really helpful, I would never have thought of getting in touch with the BHF, will check them out.

  • I so feel your pain as a senior now former competitive athlete - I have been fighting the same issue with both AF/Ablation and now a PE. I use this well known trick to exercise and stay safe. Take the number 220, minus your age x 80% is your Maximum Oxygen threshold. You have to know what your resting pulse is to begin with to keep track. My smart phone and Fitbit do both. My number to work within is 127-130 beat per min. :^)

  • Hi, not sure I understand what you mean, RiderontheStorm, sorry to be a bit thick.

    When I'm in AF or tachycardia my HR is already about 130bpm, so am unable to do any form of activity before becoming extremely breathless and unwell. When I'm back in normal rhythm I can do most activities as I feel great but the episodes of AF etc are beginning to get longer (3-4 weeks at a time) and the time I'm in nsr shorter, hence my problem.

  • In that case I've got nothing nor would anyone else. you can only do so much while in AF for tachycardia as you are limited threshold.. either through pills or ablation need to get it under control.

  • Hi RiderontheStorm, Is that (220 - 72) x 80% in my case, which comes out at about 118, seems a bit low but if correct explains why 130 is too much! Come to think of it I can cope fine up to 115, at 120 I feel I should sit down.

  • It is a general Exercising rule that works for most of us - as you now understand. :^)

  • At my worst on a good day could slowly walk a good distance on flat ground. But put any incline gave out almost instantly. Or try to carry any weight even a bag of potatoes from the car knocked me out.

    But hey others with persistent afib keep running and bicycling so must have been in my head.

    Sarcasm. But it is very individual and there are degrees of.afib/ flutter. It is not all the same. Like you can have a cold.or have pneumonia. One can be fairly gentle the other Knicks you out.

  • I realised that going anywhere was almost impossible. I felt so ill with the breathing, throbbing neck and pounding head, constant fatigue and sheer exhaustion. I thought about an exercise bike. Like you, I have nowhere to put an exercise bike. But there is a fold up one that also has a back support for the seat. Its great as a way to exercise a little and often. I got mine online and delivered from a major supermarket.

    Do have a look and see if it may work for you space wise.

  • Link please?

  • Hi Buffafly - not tec enough to know how to place a link - but its called the Gold Coast Foldable Exercise Bike with Pulse Reader.

    Noticed this morning when I was trying to work out how to place a link, that they are for sale on ebay as well as Tesco Direct.

    There are similar ones that do not have the back support, and they fold up smaller. But I liked the idea of a little something to lean on!

    I actually leave mine in situ and only put away when someone is coming to my home.

    hope this helps.

  • Thank you, I could do the same so would be ideal. Gardening is my exercise when the weather is OK but I can't walk fast enough to do any good fitness wise. Not sure about suitability for someone with worn hip though.

  • I have a neuro muscular condition on top of PAF which vastly limits my exercise tolerance. On a good day I can do some exercise but find I can nearly always do some Pilates, so good for muscle tone - using resistance is important so buy yourself a Pilates stretch band. I can rarely do a class anymore but I know enough now to adapt a routine to do at home and just do 5-10 mins a day.

    I found exercising in a swimming pool good as i can always do more in water than on dry land, not always able to swim but just exercise.

    I see a neuro Physiotherapist weekly and he has me on a resistance bike for 2 mins - 30 secs as fast as I can - 30 secs rest - repeat x 4 then same with arms - that is all the cardiac I can tolerate but it seems to work! This has helped my heart and leg muscles greatly. I can now stand and walk reasonable distances.

    On his advice - I also bought a power breather which has really improved my oxygen sats and breathlessness - but would advice seeking advice before buying one - about £9. My chest muscles were getting very weak and I am at high risk of needing breathing assistance so I want my chest muscles as fit as possible! I think this has also helped heart.

    I also use wobble board and vibro gym once a week - that really works - and because there is no exertion required it doesn't increase HR. But this is equipment at the physio.

    Walking on the flat quickly increases my HR to 130 so I then need to stop, like you I find that I can't operate once HR goes over 120 ish so wear a monitor and just stop when I need to. I find if I keep going very often my tolerance increases and then my HR stays below 120 and I can cope with that.

    It's very hard when you were used to being fit and active to suddenly find you can't do these things, especially when all your pals are still doing those things, I have found it very difficult to come to terms with. Getting the right help and encouragement is essential and I love my physio because he knows now eh. He can push me and when he can't!

    Ask at your local leisure Centre is they offer heart rehab - ours does and it is free with a note from your GP.

    Best wishes CD

  • Thank you CDreamer, all of the above options are extremely useful and worth looking into. I was beginning to think, as you say, that being fit and active wasn't an option any more but you and all the other people who have responded to my post have helped me to see that there is life with and after AF.

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