Cardiorespiratory Fitness, Physical Activity, and Incidence of Atrial Fibrillation

  • Apostolos Tsimploulis
  • Andreas Pittaras
  • Charles Faselis


Atrial fibrillation (AF) is the most common cardiac arrhythmia with an increasing burden worldwide. Despite improvements in its management, AF is still related with increased mortality and morbidity. In this regard, considerable research was focused on assessing the risk factors of AF (hypertension, type 2 diabetes mellitus, obesity, alcohol, etc.) and the impact of modifying them. One of the most important lifestyle modifications is exercise which is proven to have beneficial effects on multiple cardiovascular diseases. Its role though on the incidence of AF is less clear. It appears that high-intensity exercise training, such as the type endured by long-distance runners, increases the risk of AF, likely due to anatomical and electrophysiological changes. However, low-to-moderate levels of physical activity are associated with decreased incidence of AF. Similarly, when cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) is assessed by standardized exercise protocols, the CRF-AF association is inverse. In this chapter we will present the current literature related to exercise and the incidence of atrial fibrillation, the pathophysiologic mechanisms, and the role of exercise in patients who have been already diagnosed with AF.


Atrial fibrillation Physical activity Cardiorespiratory fitness AF Cardiac arrhythmia 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Apostolos Tsimploulis
    • 1
  • Andreas Pittaras
    • 2
  • Charles Faselis
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of CardiologyStony Brook University HospitalStony BrookUSA
  2. 2.Department of CardiologyGW University, VAMCWashington, DCUSA
  3. 3.Veterans Affairs Medical CenterWashington, DCUSA

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