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Exercise and AF: from Patients Day 2018

In response to a question from Pam296 in another thread here's a summary of what was said about Exercise and AF last Sunday.

As far as exercise is concerned, two things make it more likely that you will get AF: a sedentary lifestyle and excessive endurance exercise.

However ,non-excessive exercise does raise cardiovascular health and this lowers the AF burden.

Before exercising:

Check with your medical professional that it's OK for YOU and that your heart rate is controlled with medication. If you take an anticoagulant some forms of exercise might be too risky.

What types can you do?

Walking, swimming, 'Park Run' (you can walk!), Tai Chi, Pilates, Yoga were all mentioned.

General advice:

Do something everyday. Start gently and increase the intensity over time. Do it regularly.

Set yourself small, achievable goals

Try to vary the activity/ies you do

Stop whatever you're doing if:

You have chest pain, a rapid Heart Rate (max. of 220 minus your age) severe breathlessness, fainting, feeling unwell, for 2 days after a cardioversion and for a week after a catheter ablation (seemed far too soon to me!)

Other sources of info:

prescription4exercise.com

British Heart Foundation leaflets: 'Get Active, Stay Active', '10 Minutes to Change Your Life'

You Tube video/s: Yoga with Adrienne (I think that was the name and how it might be spelt.

My own take on all this?

The talk was very much geared to the older patient who might not have been very fit in the first place.

Take home message from it all?

Doing something is better than doing nothing. Do activities that you enjoy and listen to your own body - it'll tell you if you are doing too much.

Hope that helps a bit,

Carole

Edited to correct my spelling mistake in the website address for prescription 4 exercise. Sorry 'bout that if you've been trying to find the site.

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Thanks you Carole . Pretty much sums up what I remember . As I keep banging on. Listen to your body!

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Thanks Carole. I do use a gym but the CV work is fairly low intensity and I don't lift heavy weights. I can feel my heart going a bit wobbly sometimes but keep an eye on HR. I'm trying to reduce to that magic 'BMI of 25' or under'!

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Then it sounds to me as if what you're doing is fine for you. and that's the point really, isn't it? There can't be a 'one size fits all' solution for AF-ers where exercise is concerned as we all experience the condition so differently.

Ah yes ….. 'BMI of 25 or under' ….. not easy getting there, is it, particularly when some of the medications we take can make you feel like a zombie and/or make you breathless?

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No, it's hard work! At present, I only take Apixaban as my episodes have been very short and infrequent. They are becoming more frequent so I'm trying to shift the excess weight before I need medication.

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That sounds like a great plan and a very sensible move. Good Luck. I'm battling to lose the weight I put on (well over a stone) after initial diagnosis and being on bisoprolol for over a year.

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Thanks Carole and good luck to you, too.

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BMI isn't a great indicator, I read an article that it's hugely flawed and that a far better way to see if your at a healthy weight/size is to add up how tall you are in inches, then as long as your waist measurement is half of it or under then your doing ok👍👍👍

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Yes. There are certainly flaws with the BMI system and the 'waist half your height' is probably better; it is certainly a whole lot simpler to calculate. However, many medics refer to BMI still when assessing whether you are above a healthy weight and at least it's a guide as to whether you need to lose weight.

[In my experience it takes quite a long time for new ideas and terminology to filter through the system]

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Just been watching a rugby match.. Lots of big blokes but no fat bellies...

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But I bet they're deemed obese on the BMI scale.....bizarre

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Pam, my advice would be don't exercise to try to lose weight. There are many benefits to exercise but losing weight is not one, the science just does not support it. This can only be done by eating healthily, real food, no processed / junk. Remember - you can't outrun a bad diet!

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Have cut down massively on biscuits, cakes and all the other rubbish hanging around work! 😊

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The magic BMI of 25 and under is a totally artificial "health " marker. Actuarial statistics ( those kept by insurance companies to show at what ages people die and of what) have shown over and over for donkey's years that those regarded as overweight are actually healthier and longer living than those with the "healthy "BMI. BMI shows nothing about body composition. Years ago my husband's office gave them all health tests . The office Marathon runner who consisted of skin bone and muscle was declared obese due to his BMI. As was my husband who was also muscular and played squash 3 times a week. Several years ago the ideal range for BMI was lowered arbitrarily to bring millions of people into the overweight range . Probably to benefit the diet industry. I think it is far more important to make sure the diet is healthy and one does not eat too much rather than obsess about BMI . I knew a young woman who had a "perfect " BMI of 23. Her diet consisted mainly of chocolate bars. Yes she was slim but she was not healthy

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A pair of good walking shoes, some waterproofs, a rucksack, a vacuum flask for the compulsory tea, coffee or hot/cold drink, set your goal (over months, weeks whatever) to work up to 10,000 steps...sorry forgot to mention a bit of cash incase you wander a bit to far and have to catch the bus home. The UK has some of the finest countryside in the world and its free to enjoy, believe me a lot of gym's have more germs than the inside of a toilet bowl.....Job Done/Happy Days :)

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Sums it all up quite nicely. I find that a 5-6 mile circular walk, with a café in the middle to refresh the local rumours works quite well. No alcohol though. In the summer INGHAMS do some great cheap last minute breaks to Austria/france/Italy in their Lakes and mountains catalogue, where they have lifts to whisk you up into the hills so you can have a wander from one lift to another.

They invariably have mountain huts selling refreshments as well, so you can have an Ice cream at the start, finish and along the way, as well as a drink, so you get all the views without the drudgery of carrying all the gear.

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Thank you for sharing CaroleF.

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Thank you for taking the time to post this Carole :-)

Re exercise, its really using your common sense isn't it and keeping physically active every day while not putting your heart through undue stress by pushing the level of exercise too far.

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That's it, doodle68! Pretty much the only advice about exercise we AF-ers need really.

Do what you enjoy. Do something every day. Listen to your body.

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Thanks for your update. All the evidence that I can find seems to agree with the 'use it or lose it' philosophy and every bit of positive news helps.

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Dear Carole,

The only thing I can add is that the healing after ablation goes at least 3 months, and in the my age of 58 at least twice, with many commenting that it can go for 9 months or the year. I have started light walks approximately 2 weeks after the RFA (for persistent ventricular PVC and NSVT) and after 4 weeks moderate exercise like swimming , cycling and in 7 weeks hiking on the hills that may delayed or totally spooked my recovery as I was arrhythmia free for the weeks 3 - 8 after RFA (after 20 years of battling it). My personal advice - do this very slowly - and about half of what you think your body can do (slight chest pain or increase in arrhythmia) at any given time.

All the best to you and all!

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I know what you are saying about healing after ablation and your 'programme' sounds sensible. I was merely recording what was said by the speaker on AF and Exercise at Patients Day. She definitely said 'no exercise for 2 weeks after a catheter ablation' - but I did indicate in my first post that I thought even after 2 weeks was very early.

I'm sure we are all familiar with BobD's dictum about recovery after ablation: 'nothing more strenuous than using the tv remote for the first week and not much more for the week after that.'

However, we are all different here: different ages, different levels of general health, different personalities etc. So I think there's only ONE piece of general advice that can apply to any AF-er and that is 'Listen to your own body'.

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Thank you Carol, really interesting. I walk every day for an hour with one longish walk of 3 - 4 hours once a week. What I'm nervous about is dancing round the house when my favourite songs come on the radio.

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OOh …. don't be nervous about doing that Vee. Do it if it makes you happy (it does me!) and stop if your body tells you to. If you're genuinely nervous about it then try sitting down and moving your feet, arms, hands in time to the music. It's not quite the same, but at least you're moving to the music.

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Thank you Carole! X

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