Cycling after ablation: Hi, For six months... - AF Association

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Cycling after ablation

stoneyrosed profile image
stoneyrosed

Hi, For six months before my ablation I had to give up cycling due to more incidents of AF which seem to get worse after a cycling trip. My question is since I had the ablation on mar 9 this year apart from 2 incidents of AFIb 2-3 weeks after ablation and few ectopic now and then, is it still a bit early to dust off my bike and try again or should I let the healing process continue it’s thing? Many thanks for reading.

45 Replies

Many here will understand your passion to want to get back in the saddle but I doubt many will encourage you to do it. Even if you have every intention not to, I expect the temptation to push the envelope would prevail......why not Google Dr John Mandrola, he is a keen cyclist, has AF and is an EP.

stoneyrosed profile image
stoneyrosed in reply to FlapJack

Thanks for the reply, I will definitely google him.

I had an ablation on March 9th also, still have to pace myself when walking on the treadmill, or mowing the yard. My breathing has improved much over the past few weeks, but still struggle to be very active. Good luck and be patient, let’s hope for more energy as time goes on.

stoneyrosed profile image
stoneyrosed in reply to rwjordan

Yes I lost my breath and really struggled for a week, wasn’t expecting that but anyways I suppose we are still early days. All the best to your recovery 👍

BobD profile image
BobDVolunteer

I would leave it till at least threem months post ablation and loonger if possible. No point in undoing all the good work. Remember when you do to make sure you can exercise and talk normally at the same time or you are doing too much.

stoneyrosed profile image
stoneyrosed in reply to BobD

Thanks Bob, well 3 mths nearly up so was thinking it is about time I gave it a go, just a bit worried about triggering it off again.

MrFizz profile image
MrFizz in reply to stoneyrosed

After briskly walking for a while only, I would recomend you wear an ecg accurate chest strap (I use the Garmin Pro) and link it to my sports watch (garmin 245) that is on my mtb bike handlebars(garmin adapter) so easily visible at all times - and beeps/flashes when changes heart zones - and ride after 3 months at only 40% initially increasing to 80% max (zone 3 - fat burning zone) heart rate after x months. I’m using this approach after electric and chemical cardioversion but shorter timeframes as procedure not invasive like yours (Im having ablation next year too though). Today I rode 32kms on dirt at <=max 80% heart rate for example. Tomorrow Im doing the same for 60kms <=80%max hr on dirt stretched out socially over 8 hrs.

The chest strap is superior as it records instantly increases and decreases in hr without delay.

Goodluck and take it slowly!

Hi Stoney.

My advise ? Moderation is key here. I think after an ablation you need to build up very slowly. Instead of going 'full swing' to start why not build up slowly ? I fully understand your desire to start exercising again - totally understandable. However after a 6 months break it will take your body time to adjust again.

Why not just start with a gentle walk for a week or two. Even if it's just to the end of the road. At least this way you be on the first rung of the ladder - I think it will have a postive effect mentally. When you have done that have a slow bike ride to the end of the road - even if it's just for a few minutes. You could then increase it over the next month or so - do it slowly until you feel ready to take things a little further. Just build up bit by bit. You'll get there in the end.

RW wrote

"Good luck and be patient"

For sure +1

Paul

You are absolutely right Paul. Moderation! We have, sadly, all had to make big sacrifices with this monster. You have to give yourself a good talking too and accept that life isn't going to be quite the same again (although it can still be good), and be thankful that it is not life threatening in itself. You are always so helpful and positive Paul. Best wishes Stoney and keep smiling.

Yes great Paul, good plan and I think that is what I will do. I really hope you feel better soon. I think about everyone on here as your all great people. Thanks mate 👍

I'm 67. Have had 4 ablations. Recent one in OCT.

Was a long-distance brisk walker of 60 to 70 miles a week prior to ablation. Was back to that level 2 weeks post ablation. Did have a week of mild ectopic beats that faded after a week of backing off. Now, I just take each day as I feel. If I have energy .... I do my 10 to 12 miles ..... if I'm tired, I take a shorter walk or just rest.

Wow that is encouraging to hear. Thanks for your advice.

I was told 8 weeks for heart to heal in terms of tissue repair, minimum if 12 for remodeling. I.had mine a month after you and am getting frustrated because I can't mow the lawn! It's hard taking it slow isn't it - especially if your energy levels are good. Maybe go for a short ride but no hills? I'm walking now every day but have noticed hills are a bit of a strain so keep.ni mostly to the flat.

stoneyrosed profile image
stoneyrosed in reply to Singwell

Yes it is frustrating, the days are getting warmer and it would be nice to get off for a long ride but patience is the key I think. Good luck with your recovery.

Singwell profile image
Singwell in reply to stoneyrosed

Absolutely! I've set myself some gentle gardening tasks for today. 🤞🤞 For your long term recovery too.

Hi, I’m not sure how serious a cyclist you are. I had svt which I noticed when cycling. Long story which I’ll not go into but I use a garmin cycle computer linked to a chest strap heart rate monitor. After my ablation I kept my hr at say 100 max for a while then let it go to say 110 then 120 etc. I now let it go to 140. All good so far. If you don’t use this type of kit then do as the others say, take it easy and if you get any sign of an issue stop. Much as I love cycling my heart is more important. Good luck.

stoneyrosed profile image
stoneyrosed in reply to Fazerboy

I am just a leisure cyclist and all I have is a rucksack and bike I’m afraid 😊. I think I will go along with the advice of the others. Many thanks for your message.

Fazerboy profile image
Fazerboy in reply to stoneyrosed

Understood. Leisure cycling is the best sort. Just do enough to keep fit but don’t push it too much.

I started cycling again about a month after my ablation, but just on the flat. I started doing some hills after about 3m. But it was all at a lower pace and distance than before my ablation. It's a bit of a balancing act, you don't want to do too much but on the other hand, you want to do enough to keep your fitness up. I don't subscribe to the "able to maintain a conversation" brigade. It reminds me of those who breast stroke slowly from one end of the pool to the other in a line, chatting away!

stoneyrosed profile image
stoneyrosed in reply to MarkS

Yes I fear my fitness levels are as low as they have been, which is another reason why I am keen to get back on the saddle. Thanks for advice 👍

Everything in moderation as others have said.

If you feel good and your EP/cardiologist has given you the ok to, I would start training again but not allow your heart rate to go in to the peak zone. So you will have to start slow and flat, monitoring it constantly. Post ablation and during recovery, it is very common for your heart rate to be higher than it was during both activity and rest, and your max heart rate will be lower.

I have found with running that if my heart rate touches 150bpm, I stop and walk, let it recover to 120bpm and then continue running; I get no adverse effects and if anything the exercise relaxes my heart. Each run I see a small improvement in the number of times my heart tops to 150bpm. I don’t care how long it takes or how fast I am running.

This is 6 weeks following an RF ablation for flutter. After my 1st ablation (cryo for afib), I waited 3 months as that ablation was much, much harder on my heart. I’m 44.

Listen to your body, monitor your heart rate during exercise and whilst recovering, stay hydrated (use ample electrolytes), allow plenty of rest, use moderation and do NOT push yourself :)

Good luck!

Thank you 👍

Just baby steps is my advice

Thank you 👍

I was a keen cyclist then developed SVT which morphed into AF within a few months. I had an ablation in March 2020 and couldn’t wait to get back on my bike. Unfortunately AFtends to occur after the event so some hours after you get back from a ride so you don’t get a warning that you are over doing it! I was desperate to get back into the fresh air and cycle with my friends (Covid precautions allowing). I accepted that AF was always going to be lurking in the background so I bought a hybrid electric bike. This has transformed my life! I choose to ride with the motor off on the flat and switch it on for hills or as a boost to catch up with group if I get behind. I still have to pedal and get a good workout but I can keep my heart rate down, exercise and see my friends. I cycle 30ish miles two to three times a week and have found this an excellent compromise.

It is not a cop out despite what people might say I feel I am optimising my cycling experience - give it a go take time let your heart heal then take the pressure off yourself and start to enjoy a different but no less enjoyable

Cycling format!

Exactly, it is the hours after the event of cycling that the AF kicks in which is why I was asking the question. I can cycle for miles and feel good at the time but afterwards that was it. Did you try cycling on a normal bike after your ablation or did you purchase the electric bike straight away?

I had an ablation last year. I waited four months until I cycled a 'proper bike'. However, after two months I bought an electric ebike (never thought I'd see the day this side of 80, but that's life). I was able to use it on its lowest (ie least help setting) by about three months.

I've just had a second ablation (five weeks ago tomorrow) and I'm riding my ebike very slowly on the top setting. I don't really DO anything at that level, my HR averaged about 92 last time with a max of 103. I only did just over 4 miles though. It's far far easier than trying to walk which I really struggle with and it's great to be out. I will be gradually lowering the assistance and probably not cycle my other ('proper') bikes until four months again.

I was extremely resistant when a friend suggested the ebike, but it's been brilliant. If I ever get back to work, I intend to use it to commute too. I believed in them before for people who had heart and knee problems, for example, but now I'm just a huge fan generally for the unfit (for whatever reason) cyclist too.

It's an Orbea Gain and cost about £1900 - a lot of money. You may be able to pick one up second-hand though.

Please feel free to message me if you'd like any more info, I totally understand how you are feeling. I wanted to go out today but I have been 'grounded' by my Other Half as I am kn*ckered after two hours weeding yesterday (SCREAMS OF FRUSTRATION!)

GOOD LUCK AND SWIFT RECOVERY

ps you may want to check out the Cardiac Athletes Facebook page - very good and very inspriring (one lady running TEN weeks after a heart transplant!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

Thanks so much for the info, hope you continue to go well 😊

Get an e bike if you can. It takes the strain off your heart when you need it to.

I had an ablation in April 2015, rested for a couple of weeks after and then started training for an Ironman which I did in the September, which I don't recommend :)

I carried on going hard and a few more Ironman events for another 3 years then a few episodes then back in to afib, my cardiologist didn't think another ablation would work as my heart had enlarged too much, I am now on Sotalol which seems to keep me in rhythm.

I now ride with the same cycling groups as before, but as a couple of previous posters have mentioned, I now have an ebike, I control my heart rate with the power riding mostly between 100-120bpm.

My cardiologist said carry on as before, however I think I should of taken things a bit easier

Anyway I wouldn't worry to much about cycling again now, just be sensible :)

Can you possibly take it slower, i.e. begin cycling again but at a lower pace, and end your cycling events sooner, at least until after the 3-month blanking period? I'm an avid gardener, which doesn't sound like much, but I tended to overdo my moving earth and boulders around, too soon after my ablation in April, which caused a-fib episodes. I guess what they say is correct, i.e. moderation is the key.

Yes I think your right and will take it steady. Hope your af has eased off .

I think all of these responses indicate that everyone is different and as a result I would consult your EP. I am also a cyclist and was back in the saddle three weeks after the ablation. My EP has told me to avoid going over my HR max based upon my age and to keep my average over a one hour ride to 90% of max. I keep longer rides (2-4 hours) at 60-70% max. I had my ablation 6 months ago

Thanks for that, I suppose I will never know until I try and to take it very steady. Thank you.

I’m agonizing about the same question. While waiting for ablation I started running and lost some weight . I really felt this has helped to manage my Afib, alongside medication.I decided anyway to have my Ablation done following advice that it will be most effective in earlier stages.

Today I’m in week 6 after my procedure and still kind of walking on eggshells. Whenever I push too much (not that much really) I get ectopics in the afternoon.

I feel I have lost all my fitness, and would like to go for a run also because feel stressed, and running will help.

Probably all comes done to careful trial and error...

stoneyrosed profile image
stoneyrosed in reply to rof182

I was exactly like that first few weeks, af twice, ectopic when slightly stressed, breathless for a full week. I feel after 7 weeks I have come out of that period (fingers crossed) was hoping to get on the bike, but after careful consideration and helpful advice on here I am going to wait a while longer and just go for steady walks and see how it pans out. Good luck to you in your recovery.

Hi StoneyroseI did in fact get the E bike prior to my ablation because my AF was so bad I couldn’t ride my normal bike down the road on the flat! I tried to ride 3 weeks after my ablation on my E bike but completely exhausted myself had a bout of AF and frightened myself silly! I didn’t cycle again for a few weeks but then using more assistance than usual

I managed 10 miles. 15 months on AF is back and my drugs has increased but cycling is not one of my triggers. ( Tiredness, caffeine and alcohol!) I happily cycled 35 miles up and down the Mendips last week and was fine. Take it easy now and there is no reason why you won’t be back on your normal bike next year! I’m 65 next week so no Spring chicken but if I can still

Cycle I’m sure you will be able to!

Thank you, I think the top and bottom of it is that we are all terrified of the afib returning but we still need that bit of enjoyment out of life dont we. Good luck and thanks 😁👍

I’m an avid cyclist with Afib, had an ablation 1.5 years back. Before the ablation, I too, would get episodes in the evenings after some more rigorous activity. Since ablation, I am absolutely back on the bike, but there definitely is a difference in the way my heart reacts to activity. By far, much better if I ramp up slowly. So, check with your doc first, of course. And if you do ride, mellow and easy at first, avoid hitting the 150+ HR until you’re comfortable with how your heart reacts.

Glad to hear your cycling it certainly gives me hope, we are all different but good to hear positive stories. Good luck and thank you 👍

Hi Stoney,thanks for this very useful post. I had my ablation 1/12/2020. I have tried cycling a bit but I'm still struggling to get my fitness back. I also have Parkinsons, for 11 years. I may have to resort to an electric bike, Good luck to you. Martin

Yeah the electric bike is a last resort as I consider it cheating 😁. But we may have to adapt to whatever out situation throws at us. Good luck and thanks for reply 👍

I had an ablation around the same time as you and I’ve been cycling to work and back (36miles) for about a month, maybe six weeks now. I focus on my breathing and cycle very fast but not flat out and apart from one incident I’ve not had any major problems. I’d seek medical advice though

stoneyrosed profile image
stoneyrosed in reply to Safc1983

Wow that is good going, is that your first ablation? I feel a fraud now hearing that 🤣. But of course we are all different and anything I enjoy doing seems to have a profound effect on me eg beer, curries, cycling walking any exercise. Not sure if it is an anxiety issue with me, I tend to focus on any kind of change in my hearts functioning. Pleased your doing so well safc sorry about the play offs though 🙈

Totally agree, I am not sure cardiologists take in the mental side of coping with AF attacks, I guess you have to suffer one to know and understand how debilitating they can be. I was given a dressing down on one occasion for presenting myself to A & E with a HR if 179 + for over 6 hrs. I am a Leeds fan so I totally understand what your going through at the moment but I feel sure that next season will be the one. Love the fact you still try to live the life you have always lived, that gives me inspiration believe it or not. I have given up friends I used to go out with for a drink since I gave up booze 15 mths ago, I really miss the crack and need to try and socialise again for my mental health. Thanks for message good luck for next season 👍

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