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Exercise Tips if You Have a Pacemaker or ICD

Topic Overview

If you have a pacemaker or implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD), here are some exercise tips to follow during your cardiac rehab program.

  • Choose continuous rhythmic activities such as walking, cycling, or water exercises.
  • Always warm up and cool down.
  • Avoid extreme environmental conditions. If it is too hot or cold, exercise inside only.
  • Always wear loose, comfortable clothes and shoes that fit properly.
  • Avoid contact sports, which may dislodge the pacemaker or ICD.
  • Do not hold your breath for any reason, especially when you strain.
  • STOP exercising if you feel any:
    • Pressure or pain in your chest, neck, arm, jaw, or shoulder.
    • Dizziness, lightheadedness, or nausea.
    • Unusual shortness of breath.
    • Unusual tiredness.
    • Heartbeat that feels unusual for you: too fast, too slow, or skipping a beat.
    • Other symptoms that cause you concern.
    • Shock from the ICD.

If you have an ICD, be sure you and your doctor have a plan for what to do if you get a shock. Talk to your doctor if you need to make a plan. For more information, see the topic Implantable Cardioverter-Defibrillator (ICD).

Related Information


ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerE. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerRichard D. Zorowitz, MD - Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Last RevisedOctober 5, 2010

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