What Is the Connection between Exercise and Palpitations?

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  • Written By: Tracey Sandilands
  • Edited By: Rachel Catherine Allen
  • Last Modified Date: 02 March 2019
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Heart palpitations occur when heartbeat is either faster or slower than usual, and feels as if it is irregular, pounding or fluttering. The connection between exercise and palpitations is multifaceted, because exercise can be both one of the causes of palpitations and a method of managing palpitations. Exercise can cause palpitations in patients with heart disease or those who are unfit, because strenuous or excessive activity can put a strain on the heart. Existing arrhythmias frequently disappear when the heart rate increases, which is the reason why exercise can also be beneficial in treating palpitations.

Exercise causes heart palpitations through the elevation of the heart rate. The patient may have a healthy heart and simply be unfit, or a diseased heart that labors under the strain of the palpitations and exercise. The increase in heart rate causes the blood to pump through the heart faster, resulting in abnormal electrical activity in the sinoatrial and atrio-ventricular nodes of the heart. The abnormal electrical signals cause atrial contractions called tachycardia, which refers to rapid heart rate, and brachycardia, which refers to a slowed heart rate.


Many patients find they experience palpitations after their exercise session, instead of during the exercise. This adds another dimension to the connection between exercise and palpitations, because activity causes a rise in the heart rate, which eliminates the irregularity of any existing arrhythmia. Once the exercise is finished, the patient’s adrenalin takes time to return to normal levels, but the heart rate returns more quickly. This imbalance can cause palpitations, which are commonly worse than they would under resting conditions.

A primary method of managing palpitations in otherwise healthy patients, exercise counters arrhythmia because of the ability it has to raise the heart rate. As the heart begins to beat faster, the blood pumping through the ventricles forces uniformity of the beats, which overcomes the irregularity. It can only be used as a method of treating palpitations in patients with no indication of heart disease, however, as the combination of exercise and palpitations could lead to heart failure. Patients are also frequently advised to monitor their heart rate during exercise, to avoid the risk of palpitations.

Methods of treating palpitations rely mainly on accurate identification of the cause. Patients suffering regularly from palpitations after exercise may be prescribed medications such as beta-blockers, which reduce the effects of the adrenaline on the heart by lowering blood adrenaline levels. Reduction of stress and improved health management also helps to reduce the risks associated with exercise and palpitations.


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Post 3

@DylanB – Yes, I imagine your heart was thrown off a bit by the shock of a sudden run. Working your way into a routine is always best.

I actually started exercising to reduce my heart palpitations. Mine were caused by anxiety, and exercising relieved this, too.

I found that going for a brisk walk was helpful, and dancing was a great workout, too. I started playing badminton and skating more, and I reduced my anxiety a lot.

I suppose the effect on my heart palpitations was both physical and mental. Exercise helped my body and my mind, and I will keep doing it as long as I am physically able. If I had known before how beneficial it could be, I would have started it years ago.

Post 2

I only get heart palpitations if I do an intense workout that I'm not used to doing. I started running a year ago, and I freaked out the first few times that I got palpitations while on a run.

I slowed down and called it quits each time. I began jogging instead of running fast, and I worked my way up to a run over a period of months.

This made the palpitations stop. I was ready for the run by the time I had worked up to it, and so was my heart.

Post 1

I was already on beta-blockers to control my blood pressure before I started a workout routine. I didn't even know that exercise could cause palpitations, but it probably would have for me if I hadn't already been on the medication.

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