My Personal Struggle To Stay Fit With Inappropriate Sinus Tachycardia
I was always very active. When I was younger I was a bikini model when I lived in Hawaii. I was very fit. Even after having each of my 4 children. I also stayed active through each of my pregnancies.
I carried a little weight from my 1st pregnancy (I gained 50 pounds). But in my subsequent pregnancies, I worked hard to stay at a healthy weight and I would lose every pound I gained during pregnancy, not too long after giving birth.
After I was (mis)diagnosed with exercise-induced asthma my fitness routine became far less intense than I would have wanted. There was the intense discomfort that was caused by intense exercise and the anxiety from the thought of that discomfort.
It became worse once I was 35 when I began to have worse chest pain. When I tried to work out, I would become dizzy and my heart rate would get really high. Working out no longer felt good.
After my inappropriate sinus tachycardia diagnosis, I tried to pay careful attention to the activity that would trigger the tachycardia. Things like walking from my car to my front door at a moderate pace, going up a flight of stairs, even walking 50 feet or carrying anything more than 10 pounds would trigger a tachycardia.
So what did I do? I stopped moving as much as I possibly could. Even if I wanted to exercise I didn’t have the energy. I was constantly exhausted. I tried to at least incorporate some movement into my daily routine. I couldn’t stop going to school, so I would just move very slowly.
This subsequently led to gaining a moderate amount of weight (approximately 20-30 pounds) and not being able to lose it easily.
Doing Cardio With Inappropriate Sinus Tachycardia
I did try to get some cardiovascular exercise. My electrophysiologist said I could work out. Just to go easy and listen to my body. Well, I already knew I could absolutely not do anything high intensity. My last experience with a treadmill I was so dizzy I almost passed out. Not safe.
So I resorted to long, slow walks. My wife is always with me. It’s never safe to set out to get “a little” exercise when you have inappropriate sinus tachycardia. Anything can happen. We once went for a very leisurely stroll/hike on a very “beginner” trail and I felt so sick and horrible less than 10 minutes after that I almost went to the hospital.
My symptoms are not just easily triggered, they also just randomly occur. I have other arrhythmias and a lot of pvc’s which may have contributed to this randomness. So it made it even riskier for me to workout, whether I was alone or had a buddy with me.
Alternatives For High Intensity Cardio
One of the forms of exercise I turned to was yoga. I have been familiar with yoga for years. I actually did prenatal yoga to stay fit and flexible during pregnancy.
Some changes I made was not holding positions for extended times and not staying in any position that put my head below my heart for very long. Having my head down below my heart would trigger tachycardia for me.
I bought a large exercise ball and used it to assist me with squats and some light ab work. I did a lot of stretching. But for the most part, yoga was a great way for me to get my body moving. As long as it wasn’t too fast and I paid close attention to my body.
I can’t stress enough how slowly I did things so not to trigger any of my symptoms. One thing no one talks about is the anguish, anxiety, and depression that comes with having a heart condition. The fear can be stifling. I was determined not to allow that fear to control me.
I had to believe that I could be some semblance of my former “active” self. Even if my heart was saying different. I just had to find a “different” way of doing things.
Weight Training With Inappropriate Sinus Tachycardia
I really enjoy weight training. But it can also get the heart rate up. So I switched to working with 10-pound dumbbells and exercise bands of different tensions. Using my inflated exercise ball for stability I would slowly do various exercises (there are many routines you can find online).
Low weight and low reps are the names of the game. I knew I wasn’t going to make any gains or lose a significant amount of weight, but my goal was to simply just get some type of exercise on a consistent basis.
How To Exercise With Inappropriate Sinus Tachycardia
So how can you exercise with tachycardia? It is up to you and your physician. Even if you consult a personal trainer, you always need to get approval from your specialist and keep them in the loop about how you feel and any symptoms you have along the way.
I can’t stress enough how much you need to pay attention to your body. I always stopped what I was doing if I got winded, felt any palpitations, pain, or shortness of breath. That would be the end of the workout for me.
Everyone is different. Everyone has different symptoms that affect them differently. Our bodies are so important to us and in trying to maintain our health and quality of life, we all have different priorities.
Can I currently workout like I did before since I now have a pacemaker? Nope. But this has been a journey. One I’ve had to come to terms with. My body is different. My way of life is different. I’m now okay with that. I actually can’t really work out at all right now as I heal from my last surgery and getting the pacemaker.
My body has been through a lot. I am so grateful for it.
Will I be able to be more active in the future? it’s possible. But this is where I am on this journey for now.