AF Association
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Exercise anyone?

Hi guys, I'm a 33 year old, emergency service worker. Been living with lone AF for the past 7 years. Over this time I have gradually increased my exercise, to the point where I am racing my first ironman this year. Last year I did a number of triathlons, cycle/running races etc. for me it's has given me focus and I believe (know) that it's decrease my episodes, even to the point where I have reverted within seconds. At times it's frustrating when I can't push myself as much as I want too and at times I have periods where my confidence is in my boots. But I still crack on and continue to train. I train approx 10- 14 hours a week, depending on shifts etc.

Is there any others out there with the same passion?

(I'm writing this from my phone so apologies for any errors)

8 Replies

That is great Middy! It can be challenging to push your body to exercise when you have AF, but you are testament to the fact that being fitter and healthier can help you combat AF episodes more effectively.

Everybody will have unique limits to how much they can tolerate physical fitness. Testing your ability gradually, as you have, is a very sensible approach.

Keep up the good work!


is it ok to exercise at the gym as i have permanent af and when i went on the treadmill came over very dizzy


Wow, I'm impressed! That is so great that you have a passion for exercise because you are making your heart happy, while making yourself happy! While there is no ironman triathlon in my future, I will be heading to my treadmill in a few minutes to make my heart happy too! Be well!


Hi Middy - good to see that you are keeping up the exercise with AF. I am in permanent AF and am still keeping fit through cycling (in fact wearing a heart rate monitor while cycling helped me detect weird heart behaviour episodes before I went into permanent). I also used to do triathlons but had to give up through knee issues, so now just thoroughly enjoy the cycling. On a normal, flattish cycle run I find no difference between my performance now and when I wasn't in AF - I've even beaten some of my 'best times' since going into permanent AF. The difference I notice is when attacking hills or working really hard in events. I just seem to lack that last 10% of power, even when my HRM is showing 200! Are you affected in the same way, or does it affect you differently?

Incidentally, both my GP and cardio specialist stressed that it was good to keep up the exercise - so I am happy to follow their instructions.


Hi Middy,

This is reassuring. I was newly diagnosed with lone AF last year and have been a bit nervous about exercise. I used to cycle, swim and walk, but now I tend to just walk. I have read recently that yoga has excellent benefits for AF - must give it a try.


Cheers guys. At the moment the biggest impact on my performance is my anxiety and self doubt. I always train with a heart rate monitor, not to tell me when a episode is occurring, but more to tell me how much is left in the tank. As I suffer from lone AF normally it doesn't effect my training. My attacks are triggered by stress. So I need to remain calm and not push myself against others on hills etc. all in all I believe by increasing your fittness level you reiterate and strengthen the electrical pathways within the heart and decrease episodes of lone AF.

Romeo, start slow and build yourself and your confidence back up. 90% of the problem with lone AF is down to confidence. If your confidence is low you worry, worrying causes stress and stress causes my AF. When you have an episode and your feeling low you need to break the cycle. It takes time and you will get knocked around, but it wouldn't be fun if it was easy.

Elmbury, good to hear you are still turning peals. Another guys who is completing the ironman with me is 70. He also cycles for my club, great on the straights (he can really hold a wheel) but struggles on the hills due to beta blockers, which of course limit his heart rate. I'm unsure the reason of his meds (high bp or hr) however by knowing his weaknesses he can still beat most of the youngest in our club!!!

Happy to help if I can, I'm also a healthcare professional!


is it alright to exercise with permanent af at the gym as when i went on the tread mill came over dizzy and breathless


It's proven that exercise helps. The problem you have is knowing at what level to carry it out at. For instance if you are taking a beta blocker and you exercise at a high level you might not be able to raise you HR to a point where you are delivering the amount of O2 your body needs to perform. Or if you have fast AF your ventricles will not be able to fully fill before they contract which will also reduce the amount of O2. Both cases might make you feel dizzy.

However if you exercise at a steady rate and gradually build your self up, it shouldn't be a problem. This might mean walking on the treadmill to start off with. This will increase you HR and will also allow you to increase your fittness (over time) while still supplying your body with the O2 and blood pressure it needs.

With all exercise, put the foundations down first. In cycling each year you carry out base fitness and complete low intensity rides with a steady HR. over time the cyclist speed will increase, however the HR will remain the same. For you it might mean walk now, run later!

What is your base fitness like and are you taking beta blockers/ warfarin? I ask this because if it's the first time you have exercised for a while, that only might make you feel dizzy!

Hope this helps mate.