7 Exercises That Help Stop Heart Palpitations

Tom August  —  April 9, 2015 — 32 Comments
WARNING! If you are having heart palpitations, please do not do any exercise without the consent of your primary care physician and/or your cardiologist. If you experience shortness of breath, dizziness, and/or chest pains seek medical attention immediately.

[Note: This post is part of a larger series about the The Best Cures and Remedies for Heart Palpitations]

When I first started having heart palpitations and ended up at the ER, I completely stopped exercising. I thought that if I tried to workout I would have a heart attack. I was running fairly regularly too, and I enjoy being active, so it was hard to slow down. But I thought it was for my good. I was wrong. In hindsight, I think that it only made my anxiety and fear worse, not to mention my heart palpitations. I wasn’t able to burn off any of the stress that I was having from work and from the heart palpitations themselves.

Exercises to Help Stop Heart Palpitations

Photo Credit: said_w

My Cardiologist Told Me To Exercise

It wasn’t until I had a bazillion tests done and met with my cardiologist that I finally got back into exercising. And it made a big difference. I now had a way to “reset” my heart back to it’s normal rhythm. Eventually the heart palpitations would come back, but I could always run outside or jump on a treadmill and 20-30 minutes later I would feel a lot better.

I Relied Too Much on Exercise

I thought exercise was my magic cure all. However, I was miserable at night and couldn’t sleep with all my heart skips. There were also times I couldn’t get to the gym, like during work, and it was rough. I ended up doing crazy things like 20 minutes of jumping jacks at 3am just to make the heart palpitations go away. It wasn’t very practical. Since then, I have found other things that help reduce my heart palpitations – like eating smarter and smaller meals, breathing exercises, meditation, etc… Exercise is still the best way to get my heart back to a normal beat again, but now it’s not the only way.

Rhythmic Exercises Help Heart Palpitations the Best

Not all exercises are created equal. Some are better than others for heart palpitations (at least in my experience).

Not surprisingly, rhythmic exercises are the best for getting your heart back on beat. The idea is that you are doing consistent movements at a steady, increased heart rate (more beats per minute). So rather than something like sprints where your heart rate goes up and then back down, you do an exercise that keeps your elevated heart rate constant for an extended amount of time. I find it is a great way to get my heart back in rhythm.

Here are Seven Types of Rhythmic Exercises that Can Help Reduce Heart Palpitations

  1. Power Walking
  2. Jogging
  3. Running
  4. Rowing
  5. Cycling
  6. Swimming
  7. Dancing

My preferred method of exercise is running, although I try to also try to sneak in as much cycling and swimming as my schedule allows. I can’t say that I ever dance much (unless you count the times I walk into my boys room barefoot and there are a minefield of legos everywhere), so that’s about the only one I haven’t really tried. I’m a terrible dancer so there wouldn’t actually be much rhythm anyways 🙂

Wear a Heart Rate Monitor

Wearing a heart rate monitor has also made a big difference when I exercise. Once all my heart tests came back negative or inconclusive my doctor said that I was clear to exercise, but I should wear a heart rate monitor. I’m glad I did too. It gives me a peace of mind and helps me know if I am exercising in the proper target heart rate zones. I highly recommend that you use one. Here is the one I use (My Watch). I love it. It’s simple and really easy to use. I will have to write a post about it some time.

Some Tips on Exercising with Heart Palpitations

  1. Talk to your doctor first and make sure they say it’s ok.
  2. Wear a heart rate monitor (See the one I use HERE).
  3. Do something that gets your heart rate up to around 60-80% of your max heart rate.
  4. Try to stay consistent and rhythmic in your exercise for at least 20 minutes or more. Ideally, 30-40 minutes would be great.
  5. Try to do it at least 4-5 days per week.

NOTE: Certain Activities Can Actually Cause Heart Palpitations After Exercise

Occasionally, I will experience heart palpitations after I exercise and I believe it is for two reasons. The first is that I am lifting weights and that puts stress on my body (possibly even aggravating the vagus nerve). The second is that after a more rigorous workout my adrenaline levels are still high for a while but my heart rate is slowing down. It is during this time that heart palpitations can return for a bit. But knowing that makes me fear them less, and for me, the benefit of exercising and burning stress far outweighs the possibility of exercise induced heart palpitations.

So don’t be discouraged! It is possible to exercise with heart palpitations (if your doctor says you can, of course). You just have to be more careful and keep an eye on your heart rate. Since developing heart palpitations, I have completed five triathlons and six 5ks. I have grown to love running, cycling, and swimming. I love how good they make me feel when I’m done exercising.

So how about you? Does exercise help your heart palpitations? Does it make them worse? What kinds of exercise do you do?

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DISCLAIMER: Keep in mind I am NOT a medical professional and this is NOT a Medical website. I am just a guy who got sick and tired of dealing with anxiety, stress, and benign heart palpitations and started blogging about my journey. Hopefully some of that information is helpful to you. But what works for me or others might not work for you. Please do not do ANYTHING described or recommended in this website without the consultation and consent of your Primary Care Physician or Cardiologist. After all, this is your heart we are talking about. Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission that goes toward supporting this website. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

32 responses to 7 Exercises That Help Stop Heart Palpitations

  1. Hi, I’m 31 y.o male,

    I started feeling my palps 2,5 years ago after a month of a vigourous exercise. I went to my cardiologist and he told me I have arrhythmia asystolica, and that it’s not something serious. I do not take any medications.Ultrasound of my heart did not show any abnormalities like MVO or anything, my thyroid hormones are normal…I was under a stress, caffeine, a little bit overweight, lack of sleep , had a difficulet breakup with my longtime girlfrend etc.
    I have quit coffee, junk and fast food most of the time, I’m trying to sleep regularly, trying to keep stress at bay and my palps got better and I still can feel them especially after a exercise but my cardiologist did not precisely told me should I exercise and how much, because I have noticed palps first time after a exercise?! It probably was not the only cause and maybe not the leading cause but most probably it was the trigger for my palps. So should I exercise or not?

    • Hey Daniel,
      Thanks for the email. I am really sorry to hear that you have been struggling with heart palpitations for a couple of years, but I’m glad to hear that all your tests came back normal. That is a blessing! As far as exercise goes, I would call up your cardiologist and ask him specifically about if and how much exercise you are permitted to do. He should be able to give you a better answer since he knows all your specific info. But if everything came back ok, then I’m guessing it’s fine to work out. Just keep in mind that any palpitations you experience are benign and can’t hurt you. Think of them simply as muscle spasms. If they are harmless as your doctor says, then don’t let them ruin your life (I know this is easier said than done, but it’s possible). I always try to have a long cool down like a light run/jog to slowly bring my heart rate back down (especially after lifting weights). I find that helps my post workout heart palpitations. Also, I don’t know if you take Whey Protein or not, but that also can cause heart palpitations (as does a number of other workout supplements). Hope that helps! All the best as you continue to tackle your heart palpitations! Definitely keep us updated and let us know what works for you.

  2. My underlying rhythm, without a beta blocker, is multifocal bigeminy PVCs. This means every other beat is a PVC that originates in different sites in the ventricle. I’m in shape and exercise 6 days a week. I run, bike and weight train. The best way I have found to keep from having funky beats after exercising is a loooong cool down period.

  3. Man I have felt the exact same things as you and occasionally have days where I can’t sleep at all due to the constant heart skips, occasional PVCs, and overall feeling of anxiety. It’s awful the way it can just come on suddenly and ruin your night, and usually the subsequent day as well given how lack of sleep exacerbates the problem. Your blog has been really helpful for keeping me sane. Like you I’ve been to cardiologists, had stress tests, halter monitors, and everything comes back clean but I still feel the palpitations. I got a really light dosage of beta blocker which I’m greatful for but eventually want to stop. Thanks for getting the site back up and congrats on your 4th.

  4. Like many of your readers, I had an ideal treadmill stress echo, 2 week holter that showed skip beats and PACs but nothing that alarmed the Cardiologist and even had a CT Angio – which showed clear coronary arteries and just a 5 calcium score ( for 58 not too bad)… but still dealing with skipped beats, PACs.

    Am grateful for your site and value the advice. Magnesium Glycenate is something your readers should look at…2 Cardiologist mentioned it along with CO Q 10….

  5. Hello I’ve been having palpitations for around 4 years……had all the test run and yes they picked up pvc’s…..when they did the ultrasound they said I had a dialated aortic root, but it was nothing to worry about and to go on with my life……that’s hard to do cause when I have them they scare me still……I find that alcohol and lack of sleep bring them on more, exercise does make me feel better, but I haven’t done a big cardio workout……..I’m too scared……I can’t seem to get over the hump that I will be fine…..any help would be great…..thanks

  6. Hi, thanks so much for starting this website. I have done a few of your suggestions and found them to work. I was desperate for help, the doctor telling me these were common and I had nothing to worry about just didn’t cut the mustard! they weren’t normal to me, and I was worried as hell about them! I’m 33 and just quit the smokes a month ago, I have been living a high cholesterol high sugar diet and did near to no form of exercise. I had felt these flutters before on odd occasion and thought how annoying they were but were few and far between. Then all of a sudden wham! I had just given a group presentation at tech and had an exam that morning, when walking back to the car I felt them and they just kept going……it wasn’t untill 12am when I went to sleep that they stopped. I freaked out! cried, swore and pretty much broke down at the thought I was going to die soon…..I quit the smokes the next day, and prayed I would get to the doctors on the following day as they were booked out that same day. I knew I could go to the hospital and almost rang for an ambulance on several occasions, but knew if I did that I had crossed the line and would most certainly become a reality for me. I now exercise almost everyday, drink no coffee, fizzy or energy drinks and have been eating better then I have ever done since I was forced to eat my veges as a child. Fear is a powerful tool, one in which has given me a second chance I believe, the flutters are a reminder that I must keep going. I do get really ”pissed off” (for want of a better word) now and then because, yes, I want them to be permanently gone, but I also feel like they have saved my life, it was my bodies way of saying, look if you don’t look after me, were done!

  7. I was in the ER today due to panic from PACs. I’ve been there a lot over than last couple years. I told the nice dr today I just wish I could not be so anxious about this problem. When I told him I had stopped taking the vitamin / supplement to treat the MTHFR issue, he concluded that taking this might correct the problem, or at least relieve it. Ok, I’m trying the vitamin again. I thinking a bigger issue with me is the psychological stress. Does my anxiety cause this? Does this cause anxiety? I feel a lot of shame. I really appreciate this site. Right now I just need support.

    • Craig: Anxiety absolutely plays into the palpitations. Anxiety causes palpitations, and the palpitations cause anxiety. It’s a viscious cycle. I’m on zolof for anxiety, but it’s not really working for me. I’ve been on other anxiety meds but they made me gain a ton of weight so they switched me to zoloft, which isn’t doing anything. My cadiologist says I have PVCs and there are not serious and that it’s caused from stress. He gave me a small dose of a beta blocker, but it’s not doing anything with the palps. In fact, my palps are worse today than they’ve ever been. I feel a skipped beat every 5-6 beat. It’s maddening. I also have to burp alot with these palps and the dr. has no idea why. What vitamins/supplements were you taking and what did the dr. reccommend?

      • I was on a beta blocker to stop my palpitations. I was on 30mg of propanolol which actually worked and it help with my anxiety a lot. Here’s the thing I got annoyed with taking them everyday so I tried to wing myself off of them and it was hell them first couple of days! I was experiencing the worst palpitations of my life it was scary but I made it through. Now my palpitations came back and I don’t know what to do.

  8. Hi I’m new to this site. I’ve been under a lot of stress always worrying about my health. I have bad palpitations that scare me to death. I was to a cardiologist and he said they were extra beats. I feel like I’m going to take my last breath like my life is being sucked away from me when I get them. Then I panic and wonder is the fast heart rate from the palpitation or the panic. I have been home bound in fear of them happening while I am out. I have bad anxiety issues which I’m trying to address. But just can’t seem to get to the bottom of it. I just want it to stop because I’m so scared.

    • Diane: I feel the same way and am struggling w/ anxiety as well. Are you being treated for that with medication?

    • EVERYONE THAT HAS ANYTHING RELATED TO ANXIETY OR STRESS INDUCED PALPS SHOULD CHECK INTO HAVING LOW SEROTONIN LEVLES! Serotonin plays a key role in cardiovascular health and seems to be over looked CONSTANTLY even by cardiologists. I know this because this is exactly what I struggle with. My low levels cause Panic attacks, constant fear and anxiety, Palps, obsessive research, chronic fatigue, depression you name it. I do believe there are more effective ways to increase serotonin than SSRI drugs that make most feel worse and don’t even work for half of the people prescribed them.

  9. may Allah Bless you

  10. Have been suffering with palpitations for several months now, triggered by a permanent job lay off and stressful trip to visit family. Thank you for the advice and helpful information. Tried some of the tips to stop them immediately and they do work. Also trying the deep breathing exercises. I need to start a regular exercise program and sleep more but I am happy to have a few tools to help provide immediate relief as I make more drastic (better) changes to my lifestyle.

  11. I’m 35 I got chf 5mnths after having my son in and out the hospital I have a defibrillator which I’ve experienced it firing off my heart is better now but sometimesy heart speeds up because of the palpitations I take beta blockers and magnesium 500 mg twice a day I too have anxiety and take Xanex for that … But I’ll have palps after I eat I also get a lot of burping after could the gas in my chest be causing them I’m to nervous to exercise but I do daily activities I’ve been doing the breathing and praying and it helps until I get a hard one then anxiety kicks in and it gets worse I don’t wanna leave the house either because of the fear of leaving but I do leave cause I’m a single mom of a 5 very active year old .. Any suggestions to keep it calm and move on with my life? Please respond!

    • Hi Annie
      I’m a single mum to an active 4 year old so completely understand! I have PVC and have known that since it came up in a routine work medical 10 years ago. However I’ve only been getting symptoms for the last 2 years. I find yoga and breathing exercises really help and ‘counting my blessings’ each night helps focus on the positive and remove the anxiety. Also it can be that one has a simple vitamin/mineral imbalance. I find eating bananas (potassium) helps and take magnesium supplements. HTH

  12. I just want to thank you for your website also. I’ve had these heart palpitations for more than 10 years, they started when I was a kid and really scared me a lot. The past years, I have had them less and less, as I simply worry less about it. I just recently felt a little jump, and was wondering what had caused it. Just thinking about it and focusing on my heart makes it do weird things. There was a point in time, a few years ago, before it got better, it really was at its worst, I was having them all the time, and everywhere. I had just got engaged, and started a new school program, and many new things in my life were happening. It was a very exciting time for me, but also stressful as I didnt know how to deal with all the novelty.. The more I thought about my heart, the more it jumped and did all sorts. Until my father just said: “you listen to yourself way too much, give yourself a break!”, and my sister told me the same thing/. So I tried training my mind. I did mind work outs 🙂 basically replacing my thoughts of fear by positive thoughts such as: ” I am a healthy, strong person, and my heart is strong and healthy” (i had also gone to a cardiologist and he said everythign was fine, monitored my heart for 24h and didnt find anything.). It turned out after doing my positive self talk, the palpitations became more and more rare. Now it is more of a rare thing than ever, which I am so glad about.
    But thank you so much for your blog. It’s sometimes easy to go back into bad thinking habits and to sink into anxiety! It really is like working out. Our minds should be the strongest with positive thoughts, not thoughts of fear.
    Good luck to everyone 🙂

  13. For me it’s exercising that causes them, it’s usually in between sets of lifting weights, i get the skipping and fluttering, i feel really anxious when they start, and all i can think is “Oh my god, should i stop? Should i continue? And i pace up and down thinking “Oh gosh if i continue, i might actually die here! and by continuing (which i almost always do, it’s like im tempting fate, like im saying “yeah im hear come and finish me” and i hate thinking that way, i just wanna workout. I don’t want my workouts to be this feat inducing.

    • Hi Axel. Works similar for me!

      The more vigorous the exercise I do, the more palpitations I get later on when trying to rest.
      Because palpitations won’t manifest WHILE I am working out (but later) for several years I used to do A LOT of exercise which in the end I realize was detrimental. I think it works like a bucket: exercise adds palpitations to a bucket, and later when trying to rest, the vagus nerve struggles to get its job and my heartbeat is all over the place.
      WIth certainty the only things that don’t give me palpitations are walking and a gentle swim. Worst offenders: weightlifting, yoga (headstands) and jumping rope…(?)

  14. Hey guys so I went to EP Doc, basically said all the pvcs/pacs are benign. I said I get them sometimes when I exercise he stated they don’t know why it happens but it does and but he said that it’s fine and I have no risk factors so I feel better. I think once you get checked out you should try and to just acknowledge them and then let them be.

  15. Kind of an older thread but I’ll leave my comment.. I’ve been suffering/dealing with palpitations for years! I have had more EKG tests done than I can count. Every single one comes back normal so the doctors don’t refer me to cardiologist. They prescribed me beta blockers which I did not take because my pulse is 77 if it gets any lower I’ll be too tired to function. My blood pressure is always 140/ something in the doctors office doesn’t matter what doctor or time of day it spikes from fear. At home when I test it myself it’s always 120/80 or lower lately been 115/65 sometimes lower than that. Pulse is usually 77 or 65 waking up. 100 or high 90s when up walking around. I have a treadmill I got on it and ran a few minutes and checked my vitals myself everything seemed fine. I have a stethoscope I listen to my own heart beat and hear the skips. I was told by 2 doctors it could be the vagus nerve which runs from the head down past the heart. If you have acid reflux it can irritate the vagus nerve sending palpitations. So I’ve started myself with doctors ok on nexium. I notice my palpitations are worse when I have to make a bowel movement. When they get to thumping really bad then my IBS kicks in and I am stuck on the toilet for a while. I do have generalized anxiety not on medication for it. Previously on medicine for it and didn’t help. I’ve learned self help techniques congitive behavioral therapy and finding a safe place in my mind to go to. I’ve learned to look around when I’m having a panic attack and look for something to stare at that’s not moving. Then I listen for something and identify it. Smell, what’s the smell. Touch, pick something up. If there’s somebody with you that helps too. But I’ve had anxiety for years so I’ve managed to get by ok unless a ruthless panic attack comes and ruins it. Then I have to fight it.
    Back to the palpitations, I have not exercised from the fear of getting them so just today I got on my treadmill did 4 mins of 2mph walking and got a headache and palpitations then to the bathroom. So I’m at my wits end. I have changed my diet no fizzy drinks no chocolate. Haven’t had caffeine in years doesn’t help anxiety much being hyped up. Never smoked never drink alcohol never do street drugs. Had a bad habit of fast food for a long time. Just don’t know what else to do.

    • Try to take magnesium citrate 🙂 I’m taking up to 1000 mg per day plus natural Calm magnesium CREAM 🙂 and use EPSOM salt TRY IT!!!!!!!!! Give yourself some time:)

  16. Hi my name is Moises i have just been having bad strong heart palpitations a few days ago just started having them cause i do suffer from anxiety and panic attacks the panic attacks have gone away thank god cause i take Alphrazolam,Xanac i ve had a 24 halter monitor put on me nothing came up before 2 months ago didnt show up anything so now iam going to another cardiologist he had me get done an Echogram ultrasound got the results he said there was nothing came up he saw in the results that there it was normal now iam going to go have another halter monitor put on and a stress test i need to find answers why i have this so is there anything i should do or would it be good to run or exercise cause thats when it triggers it my anxiety heart rate goes crazy just in a few minutes starts beating irregular not normal rate please help feels like iam dying or something bad is going to happen to me like people have said on here.

  17. Something I have noticed during my struggle with heart palpitations was that mine would happen when my breath was coming in or being held. I struggled for a while then went to a chiropractor and was adjusted several times and then my palpitations went away. This helped for a while and then I would need to get adjusted again.

    A theory for the author would be that the exercise is causing your back to give relief for a while. Have you tried a chiropractor?

  18. I hate that I get skipped beats when I walk it’s very uncomfortable and scary… I have to stop or slow down because they scare me.

  19. I have felt palps the last 2 years.. they starts every November.. i work at night 10 hours shift ftom 6pm to 430am…
    Went to cardiologist did the 24 monitor… and waiting for them to call me for appointment… i feel the palps when ride motorcycles most of the time.. dont know what to do…

  20. Sorry wrong email…

  21. Hello there 🙂 I suffer from PVCs and Pacs for almos 10 years now 🙁 recently it’s been worse and specially during exercise:( I found that when I do High intensive , like a class that’s called RPM (it’s a cycling class – similar to interval training ) my PVCs go crazy and I have LOADS 🙁 it sucks because as much as I love to exercise and Freack out that the PVCs are going to kill me while I’m doing it 🙁

  22. HAVE YOUR IRON (FERRITIN) LEVELS CHECKED

    My whole life I’d been aware of PVCs/PACs but they were few and far between and never worried me. This past year though, I’d been experiencing dozens a day, sometimes every few minutes, all day long, every day. I finally went to the Dr. to investigate. This past month I’ve felt only 2 PACs/PVCs (during the week of my period, which is normal for me). Here’s what I learned in the process.

    A visit to your Dr. (to do blood test, EKG, and holter monitor if necessary; I wore one for 48 hours) will help determine whether your PACs/PVCs are a diagnosis or a symptom. If they’re your diagnosis, then something is off with the electrical patterns in your heart, and even for this, there are relatively easy fixes (e.g., medications or ablation). But if they’re a symptom of something else going on in your body, here are some ideas. [in my case, there was nothing wrong with my heart; cardiologist saw a few PVCs/PACs and said they were nothing to worry about.]

    Most forums suggest that avoiding alcohol, caffeine, and taking a multi-vitamin can help alleviate PVCs/PACs. I’d done all of that, in addition to trying Taurine (a heart-healthy amino acid), drinking more coconut water (for potassium), taking CALM magnesium supplements, and exercising more and exercising less. Nothing seemed to lessen my symptoms.

    My blood work revealed low Ferritin levels. Mine were 32 (on a scale from 15 to 150). 32 is not critically low, so they only mentioned it when I pressed for more info, asking was anything even slightly off, I need to figure this out. They said they like to see these levels at 40-50 and I read on the internet that for women, optimal levels are 80-90, and even higher for athletes. I am not an athlete, but I do exercise every day and live at 5,000 feet, where your body needs more oxygen anyway.

    My Dr’s assistant recommended prenatal vitamins which have high iron and folate content. I’ve also reintroduced a tiny bit of red meat into my diet. I am drinking hibiscus tea everyday, which is high in (plant-based) iron. My symptoms are gone, other than the two I felt this month during my period week.

    A lot of doctors, I’ve read, write these symptoms off as anxiety and stress. If you do not believe this is the cause, then dig deeper. Low iron levels in your body can mimic anxiety because your body is not getting enough oxygen, which puts it into a low-grade panic mode. In this state, caffeine or alcohol or regular stress might be too much for the body that is already working overtime to get enough oxygen to all its cells.

    Doctors will tell you these symptoms are “normal” if they don’t think they are life-threatening, but for sufferers, the fact that they are normal is not comforting, and doesn’t make them go away, which is probably what you want. I don’t know why there isn’t more written about the connection between low-iron and PVCs/PACs. The link is known about. I hope this is helpful to even one person out there suffering with these. Good luck.

  23. I know this post is old..but I have searched and searched online and cannot find any peace..I had constant heart palps for 2 days and was so scared I finally went to the doctor..he put me on beta blockers..I quit taking my birth control..cut out sodas..and they went away for a week exactly..but the following Monday they came back and now I feel hopeless and do not know what to do..I have to work..but I just want to sleep all the time because it’s the only time I feel like I’m not on the verge of a heart attack.

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