Rosalie Ungar is the author of IN A HEARTBEAT: The Ups & Downs of Life with Atrial Fib.
Exercise is important in managing A-Fib. I’ve written several blogs about exercise. For the last fifteen years (since age 65, now approaching 81), I’ve done pretty strenuous work outs at least 3 times per week. Even before that age I did something to keep my body in shape…mainly walking 4 miles in an hour 4 or 5 times per week. You can read more about exercise in my memoir, IN A HEARTBEAT: The Ups & Downs of Life with Atrial Fib.
The phrase, “no pain, no gain” was a guide to how much I could do…100 pushups, a 3 minute plank, spinning bike, weights and more. I had several different personal trainers over the years. They were all good and made it possible for me to manage my atrial fib, my other chronic physical problems and maintain a lifestyle fit for someone much younger. I credit exercise for the reason I was able to reverse heart damage from the 2 heart attacks I suffered at age 62.
Two hip replacements are still in place since they were completed 20 years ago. I chalk this up to exercise and building muscle around the hip joints to protect them. Any pain I felt after exercising went away later in the day. I actually wore that pain as a badge of honor and am glad that I did.
When it was time to change my exercise routine, I knew it. I wear my age proudly and know that change is vital in everything we do. Harboring regrets and festering depression over getting older uses too much energy—energy that I need and want to use on positive movements and acceptance of fun things that I like. New experiences, new friends…even an afternoon nap are part of most days.
I still exercise. Because I am fit and energetic, I can do exercises every day that will keep me that way. Sometimes I do them twice a day. They all relate to stretching. The chiropractor and his qualified staff who assisted in treating minor back problems instructed me in what to do and for how long. Also, telling me that if it hurts, don’t do it, or minimize it. Low impact cardio is good. I’m back to walking, not a 15 minute mile for an hour. I prefer a treadmill but walking outside in good weather is ok. However, I find sidewalks and paths are sometimes too uneven. My balance is not so good, so it’s necessary to be cautious and pay attention…always.
Don’t forget to exercise your brain. I play brain games with myself to remember names and things from the recent past. Sometimes it’s easier to remember details from the long ago past than from the recent past. Make plans with friends and relatives and schedule some activity you like doing each day. Reward yourself with sitting and watching TV for a limited amount of time or playing solitaire on your computer for a half hour: Read, play bridge or a board game. Then, get up and move around. Train, not pain!