Stopping an AF attack using exercise

I have had 5 periods of AF in 2017 and I have been able to stop all of them by getting on my bike and after about 15 mins to an hour of cycling, particularly if I have to go up a hill, I revert back to NSR. It is nice to have found a way to control things as it avoids the long-winded process of getting cardioverted. It has not always worked pre-2017 but was often effective. I had a cryoablation in July 2016 which obviously was not totally effective. I also have LBBB and cardiomyopathy which may be the cause of my AF. I use a sports heart rate monitor to when I am in AF and when cycling.

7 Replies

  • Just the same with me. Cycling terminates my aFib. I use ECG for monitoring my heart and the Afib during cycling. Today an yesterday I tested paralel armband (Scosche) and ECG. Looks like so, that the optical sensors may detect sometimes the motional artifacts of the band. I saw sometimes extremly high pulse rate while heart rate on the ECG remained stable and within the target zone (85-90 bpm). In both experiment I was in normal sinus rhythm.

  • Earlier on in my AF I too was also able to 'control' my events by mild exercise. In my case just going out and washing the car seemed to terminate the AF. Later when AF became more persistent in length it didn't work. Never tried to cycle it off though.

  • Hi, How does a sports heart rate monitor tell you that you are not in AF. Is it simply by the absence of a high rate

    Thanks Phil

  • Yes you see your heart rate is back down to a normal level. You can also see that it is a regular rhythm as the little heart symbol stops flashing irregularly. A cheap one costs about £30. You wear a strap around your chest and a wrist watch.

  • Hi AFCyclist - I used to cycle a lot too, but could never understand why hills were so tough for me, until I was diagnosed with PAF.

    It's interesting that you can control your AF this way. However, a keen cyclist friend of mine told me a story of how he was out on a ride with a group and a member of the club (with AF) raced up a hill at great speed. When the others reached the top they found him dead. I personally feel that what you are doing to control your heart rate is a bit like Russian roulette. I do believe that gentle exercise could perhaps be ok, but be warned.


  • Yes, I agree that rapidly beating ventricles can be bad news. I use a heart rate monitor and keep my heart rate below 120bpm. When I am trying to get rid of AF I am not going hard but keeping a steady pace up hill. The arithmya (spelling?) nurse said it was possibly due to the anti tacki cardia responce which is a similar effect to that used in pacemakers where the heart is asked to beat faster and then gives up on the AF. I note your words of caution but find it a usefull technique. The issue comes when it does not work and I then have to decide what to do.

  • Totally agree, when I was in af before ablation, I would be very weak, and even my back would shudder

    So bike riding would have been a disaster

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