Exercise in individuals with atrial fibrillation



Despite the high prevalence of atrial fibrillation (AF), there is a lack of recommendations for physical activity and exercise in individuals with AF, including athletes with AF.


With the aim to review studies that have investigated effects and safety of exercise in individuals with AF, we conducted a literature search in Pubmed using the key words atrial fibrillation AND exercise OR physical activity OR exercise/adverse effects OR adverse outcome.


Observational data from one registry suggest that regular exercise is associated with reduced mortality in AF patients. Three randomized controlled trials (RCTs) have demonstrated that 12-week exercise interventions might reduce the burden of AF and improve exercise capacity by 10–16% in patients with paroxysmal or persistent AF. Three small RCTs suggest that exercise might improve exercise capacity with 15–41% in patients with permanent AF. Exercise might improve quality of life in patients with AF. Data on safety of exercise are sparse. No studies have evaluated the effect of exercise in athletes with AF.


Despite weak evidence, we suggest that individuals with AF should exercise regularly after evaluation of underlying conditions. Recommendations should be individualized. There is a lack of data to support exercise recommendations in athletes with AF.

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We wish to thank Bente Morseth for her advices in the preparation of the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Marius Myrstad.

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Myrstad, M., Malmo, V., Ulimoen, S.R. et al. Exercise in individuals with atrial fibrillation. Clin Res Cardiol 108, 347–354 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00392-018-1361-9

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  • Atrial fibrillation
  • Arrhythmia
  • Exercise
  • Physical activity
  • Athletes