(HealthDay News) — Safe levels of exercise differ for men and women with atrial fibrillation (AF), according to research scheduled for presentation Friday at the annual meeting of the Heart Rhythm Society, held from May 13–16 in Boston.
Using data from 14 studies involving 380,000 people with AF, the researchers found that moderate and vigorous levels of exercise are safe for women with AF, but vigorous exercise may be risky for men. The team defined moderate exercise as 15–30 minutes of walking five times a week, or an activity such as yoga. Vigorous exercise was defined as activities such as running, swimming, bicycling, and jogging.
Among women, the risk of an AF episode was reduced by 24% for those who engaged in moderate exercise, and by 15% with vigorous exercise. In men, moderate exercise reduced the risk of an AF episode by 19%, but vigorous exercise raised the risk by 90%.
“Sustaining a workout routine can be intimidating for patients with AF because they are concerned about how it will further affect their heart beat and potentially trigger an AF episode,” lead author Sanghamitra Mohanty, MD, senior researcher at the Texas Cardiac Arrhythmia Institute in Austin, said in a Heart Rhythm Society news release. “Now that 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 AF and improve their overall quality of life.”