For many people, pacemaker implantation is a simple surgery with profound implications. Having a pacemaker can change the rest of your life in various ways. Most obviously, pacemaker implantation, which often takes fewer than two hours to complete, provides an instant sense of emotional comfort, knowing that no matter what, a device is in place to ensure that your heart keeps beating correctly. Additionally, many people find a pacemaker a significant motivation to improve their lifestyles, eat healthier, and commit to an exercise regimen.
One of the common questions our newly heath-motivated patients ask us is what specific next steps they can take to maintain their heart health as they move forward. Specifically, they want to know what type of exercise is safe for them to take part in after their pacemaker surgery. The answer is, it depends. Every patient is different and must be treated as such. Your cardiologist can give you exercise advice tailored to your specific health conditions. However, here are some essential things to consider.
When Is It Safe To Exercise?
Bearing in mind the advice above about consulting your cardiologist, most professionals agree that patients can begin exercising again four to six weeks after their successful pacemaker implantation. Once you’re cleared to exercise, you must ease back into it. Remember that your body has recently undergone surgery and is likely still acclimating to your device. Start easy, and you’ll be back to your routine when you’re ready.
What Exercises Should I Avoid?
As you heal from your pacemaker surgery, it’s essential to avoid any exercises that put a great deal of stress on your upper body. Things like swimming, tennis, golf, and weight lifting should be off-limits until your cardiologist has cleared you to participate in them once again. You should avoid high contact sports like football, rugby, or boxing altogether to prevent the risk of injury.
Most doctors highly recommend low-impact cardiovascular exercise. Often people get the idea that exercise has to be high intensity to be effective, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Those intense workouts carry more risk of injury and put more unnecessary stress on our bodies as we age. Here are a few simple exercises that can make a huge difference in your overall health.
You may think that walking is boring, but it’s one of the best exercises you can do for your health. A regular walking routine can positively affect your cholesterol, blood pressure, and mental health and help you lose weight. Make sure you’re walking fast enough to get your heart pumping, but not so quickly that you can’t breathe. If you’re interested in jogging, speak with your doctor first. Then, with their blessing, you’ll find many programs to help you ease into the activity safely.
Another great low-impact exercise is swimming. Whether you choose to swim laps or join a water exercise class, your body will experience tremendous benefits from being in the pool. The water creates excellent resistance while being low impact and very safe. If you don’t have a pool at home or in your neighborhood, check with a local YMCA or community center for access.
Not everyone is comfortable riding a bike, but if you are, biking is another low-impact, highly effective modality. Whether you speed down the road on a race bike or pedal slowly through your neighborhood, consider bike riding an incredibly beneficial exercise.
These are just a few of the exercises you could take up as you move into a new, healthier phase of your life. Many patients also enjoy activities like yoga, pilates, and tai chi which are emotionally calming and can be adapted to your specific abilities. At the same time, other people like to find more creative ways to get their exercise in, like playing with grandkids, gardening, or dancing. The most important thing is that you find something that interests you enough to keep coming back for more.
Finally, we must mention again how important it is to work with your doctor to determine the ideal exercise timeline for your specific case. Only a professional with direct knowledge of your medical history should have a say in the right next steps for your exercise future. Contact us today if you have more questions about what to expect after pacemaker implantation. We’d love to help!