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Exercises With a Pacemaker

author image Jennifer Byrne
Jennifer Byrne is a freelance writer and editor specializing in topics related to health care, fitness, science and more. She attended Rutgers University. Her writing has been published by KidsHealth.org, DietBlogTalk.com, Primary Care Optometry News, and EyeWorld Magazine. She was awarded the Gold Award from the American Society of Healthcare Publication Editors (ASHPE), 2007, and the Apex Award for Publication Excellence.
Exercises With a Pacemaker
Your doctor can advise you on which activities are best for your post-pacemaker workouts. Photo Credit old man running image by Goran Bogicevic from Fotolia.com


If you've had a pacemaker implanted, you may be hesitant or cautious about resuming an exercise routine. You may be concerned about the pacemaker's ability to achieve or maintain an accelerated heart rate, your limitations in terms of strength, or the durability of the pacemaker. In most cases, you can continue to exercise after recovering from pacemaker implantation. According to Cardiac Athletes.org, a great deal depends on the heart condition that necessitated your pacemaker, the type of pacemaker implanted, and your overall cardiac history. You should talk with your doctor about the best exercises for your health needs.

Initial workouts

According to arrhythmia.org, you should start slowly on your exercise routine after your pacemaker implantation. Walking is an excellent way of burning calories and increasing heart rate moderately. Particularly in the beginning, you should start out with exercise that is low to moderate intensity, reports Cardiac Athletes.org. You should also have an ECG prior to starting your exercise routine to determine your tolerance to exercise. In the first six weeks, you should avoid any lifting or weight bearing with the arm on the side your pacemaker is implanted.

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Regular Exercise

Eventually, you should be able to do most forms of exercise with your pacemaker, reports Cardiac Athletes.org. You will be able to program a suitable and safe heart rate for a cardiovascular workout into your pacemaker. Your doctor will discuss how to arrive at an appropriate rate for you. The highest setting for exercise heart rate is 80 percent of maximum capacity. Moderate exercise usually requires 60 percent of maximum capacity, Cardiac Athlete.org reports. You should extend the "warm up" and "cool down" periods to last between 10 and 15 minutes.

Exercises to Avoid

Although there aren't many limitations on exercise after a pacemaker, there are some, particularly in the first months after implantation. According to Arrythmia.org, you should avoid exercises like golf, swimming, tennis, or other exercises involving extensive range of motion in the shoulders during the first six weeks after surgery. You should also avoid heavy lifting during this time. According to Cardiac Athletes.org, contact sports aren't suitable for a person with a pacemaker, as these sports may damage your pacemaker. You should also take care, even after six weeks, when doing exercises requiring shoulder motion, as these may cause you to crush the pacemaker wire between your first rib and clavicle.

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