“Safe” levels of exercise differ for men and women with the common heart rhythm disorder known as atrial fibrillation , new research reports.
Using data from 14 studies involving 380,000 people with atrial fibrillation a type of irregular heartbeat that affects many people worldwide and is linked to higher risk of strokes. The study found that moderate and vigorous levels of exercise are safe for females with atrial fibrillation but vigorous exercise may be unsafe for males.
“Sustaining a workout routine can be intimidating for patients with atrial fibrillation because they are concerned about how it will further affect their heart beat and potentially trigger an atrial fibrillation episode,” lead author Dr. Sanghamitra Mohanty, senior researcher at the Texas Cardiac Arrhythmia Institute, explained in a news release.
In the study, to be presented on Friday at the annual meeting of the Heart Rhythm Society in Boston, Mohanty’s team defined moderate exercise as 15 to 30 minutes of walking five times a week, or an activity such as yoga or tai chi. Vigorous exercise was defined as activities such as running, swimming, cycling and jogging.
Among females, the risk of an atrial fibrillation episode was reduced by 24 percent for those who engaged in moderate exercise, and by 15 percent with vigorous exercise.
In men, moderate exercise reduced the risk of an atrial fibrillation episode by 19 percent, but vigorous exercise raised the risk by 90 percent.
“Now we know about the advantages of moderate physical activity in both men and women, we are able to provide specific tips and recommendations on how patients can exercise safely and at the same time benefit from the protective effect of exercise on atrial fibrillation and improve their overall quality of life,” Mohanty added.