AF & Exercise
At our last meeting, we were fortunate to be joined by trainee Echo Specialist, Isaac Watkinson from RUH Bath. Before joining the Cardiac Centre, in 2021, Isaac studied Sports Science and Clinical Exercise and is also qualified to prescribe exercise for cardiac and cancer rehabilitation. Here is a summary of his presentation:
Isaac discussed the range of health benefits physical activity and exercise can offer for those with Atrial Fibrillation (AF). Current physical activity guidelines state that adults should aim for 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise, or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity exercise per week. Alongside this, muscle strengthening exercises and balance exercises should be performed twice per week. These guidelines were introduced because of the wealth of benefits exercise can offer, such as improving cardiac function, cardiorespiratory fitness, insulin sensitivity, as well as enhancing muscle function and bone health. Furthermore, exercise offers a range of mental health benefits and is an excellent way to relieve stress.
Despite this guideline, there is no minimum amount of physical activity required to achieve health benefits. Benefits can be achieved both above and below these guidelines. Just by engaging in more physical activity, individuals with AF can significantly reduce their risk of mortality, hospitalisation and strokes. In addition, exercise can help manage AF symptoms as well as reduce the time one spends in AF.
So, the benefits of exercising with AF significantly outweigh the risks, and remember, any movement is better than no movement!