Overexercising and Atrial Fibrillation

Overexercising and Atrial Fibrillation

Recent research has shown that atrial fibrillation, in many cases, is a condition caused by poor lifestyle choices, especially by being overweight. Yet, as we said, this is true in many, not all, cases. The truth is, some people have flawless lifestyles, yet suffer from atrial fibrillation. The cause of the disorder in these people can be another condition like thyroid disease, mitral regurgitation, or hypertension.

Luckily, patients with atrial fibrillation who are overweight can significantly relieve their symptoms, or even eliminate the disorder completely, by making some major lifestyle changes with special attention to reducing excess weight. Once weight loss goals are achieved, the structure and function of their hearts will change and promote normal heart rhythms.

Atrial Fibrillation Overview

Briefly put, atrial fibrillation is a heart condition characterized by irregular, and often abnormally rapid, heart rate. Namely, the heart rate can be more than 100 beats a minute which is significantly higher than the normal heart rate (60 to 100 beats while resting).

What’s more, this abnormally fast and irregular heart rhythm can lead to suffering from stroke, heart failure, and other cardiovascular complications. Yet, the major concern is the risk of developing blood clots within the upper chambers of the heart which may circulate to other organs and block blood flow.

Unfortunately, some people may have atrial fibrillation without knowing it as it doesn’t always show symptoms. Still, those who have atrial fibrillation symptoms may notice:

  • Palpitations
  • Weakness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue
  • Lightheadedness
  • Dizziness
  • Chest pain

Exercise and Atrial Fibrillation

According to studies, there’s a clear link between the amount of exercise a person does and the risk of developing atrial fibrillation. However, the connection cuts both ways. In other words, not enough or too much exercise can lead to suffering from the disorder. So, it’s not only a sedentary lifestyle that increases the risk but also overdoing endurance exercise.

Sedentary Lifestyle

As we already mentioned, studies have found a strong connection between atrial fibrillation and a sedentary lifestyle. That means that by introducing the right exercises into your lifestyle, you can significantly reduce the risk of atrial fibrillation.

Furthermore, a study conducted in 2015 showed that a simple exercise program is enough to notably improve cardiopulmonary fitness levels in patients suffering from atrial fibrillation and alleviate the symptoms or even eliminate the disorder.


On the flip side, studies have shown that there’s a higher risk of developing atrial fibrillation in people who engage in long sessions of endurance exercises, like running a marathon for example. To be more precise, the risk is five times higher.

The Bottom Line

We can conclude that not all overweight people who follow a sedentary lifestyle will develop atrial fibrillation. But, the same goes for people who perform long endurance training from time to time.

As a matter of fact, some people are at greater risk of having the disorder mainly due to genetics. And, these people are the ones that should be careful with endurance exercises, i.e. overexercising.

Finally, regardless of whether you are an athlete or an overweight person, ensure you consult your doctor and discuss your risk of developing atrial fibrillation. Your doctor will then provide you with the right recommendations to reduce or eliminate atrial fibrillation.