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Can J Cardiol. 2013 Dec;29(12):1721-8. doi: 10.1016/j.cjca.2013.09.020.

The effects of chronic exercise training in individuals with permanent atrial fibrillation: a systematic review.

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Minto Prevention and Rehabilitation Centre, University of Ottawa Heart Institute, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. Electronic address:



Atrial fibrillation, the most common sustained cardiac arrhythmia, is associated with significant morbidity and mortality. Chronic exercise training is a recognized form of treatment for those with many forms of heart disease. There might also be a role for exercise in the management of permanent atrial fibrillation; few studies have explored the effects of chronic exercise training in persons with this condition. The purpose of this study was to systematically evaluate and summarize the evidence surrounding the effects of chronic exercise training in persons with permanent atrial fibrillation.


A systematic and comprehensive literature review was undertaken of all English language literature. A total of 6 studies, 3 randomized controlled trials with a total of 118 participants, and 3 observational studies with a total of 93 participants, were identified.


The literature suggests that short-term chronic exercise training of low, moderate, or vigorous intensity in adults with permanent atrial fibrillation significantly improved rate control, functional capacity, muscular strength and power, activities of daily living, and quality of life. The effect of short-term chronic exercise training on aerobic capacity in adults with permanent atrial fibrillation is conflicting.


Chronic exercise training appears to play a promising role in the management of permanent atrial fibrillation. Future studies examining the effect of various forms of exercise training interventions in improving clinical outcomes and exercise tolerance in those with permanent atrial fibrillation are needed.

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