Myocarditis Exercise Restrictions

Regular exercise is important to maintain your overall health, including the heart. But if you have myocarditis — an inflammation disorder affecting the myocardium (heart muscle) — some types of physical activity could be counterproductive or even fatal. Here are pieces of information about myocarditis exercise restrictions to remember.

Getting started: What’s safe?

How long myocarditis takes to heal can vary, depending on several factors (especially the degree of inflammation and the severity of heart muscle damaged). The good news, it’s mild and will relieve without leaving serious problems in most cases.

However, there is also a chance for the inflammation to come back months or years afterward (see more in here). Therefore it’s so important to treat the disease properly – follow all guidelines as directed by your healthcare provider.

Exercise can help boost your recovery. It’s good to strengthen the heart and its structures. Other benefits;

  1. Achieving or maintaining a healthy weight.
  2. Relieving heart failure symptoms (such as shortness of breath, chest pain, and tiredness), which are also common in people with myocarditis.
  3. Driving the body use oxygen more effectively (improving the circulation).
  4. Lowering LDL (bad cholesterol) and blood pressure.
  5. And many more.

So even though if you have myocarditis, this doesn’t mean you need to sit around all day long or do nothing. But first off, get an “OK” and some instructions from your doctor before you start! Sometimes exercise could be too much of a risk when your heart isn’t ready.

If necessary, your doctor may need to check your heart function by performing an echocardiogram test. Once your heart is ready for exercise, your doctor can comprehensively explain what’s safe and what’s not. You may have more choices and options than you think.

Myocarditis exercise restrictions may vary from person to person. But in general, it’s important to avoid any extreme physical activities that can make your heart work harder during the months of your recovery.

Competitive sports could be fatal (life-threatening) in people with myocarditis, even though when the disease is mild. For example, young athletes with mild myocarditis can have a sudden death if they’re not careful during exercise. Unfortunately, the disease is more likely to cause no any symptoms when it’s mild. As a result, they will be totally unaware that they have the disease and feel well enough to compete in competitive athletic events.

Since reducing the workload on the heart is so crucial to recover from the disease, it’s recommended to completely skip any competitive sports until your heart is completely healed. The complete recovery may take about 6 months or more.

What else?

  1. Restrict isometric exercises such as sit-ups and pushups. They involve straining muscles against other muscles. During the months your heart is healing, too much isometric exercises could be counterproductive.
  2. How about heavy lifting? Your doctor may ask you to also avoid heavy lifting for a while. But if you think that you’re well enough for strength training, do only what you can do or ask your doctor for more guidance!

Furthermore, sometimes certain medications you’re taking might also have a significant effect on the way of how your body handles exercise. Therefore it’s important to work with your health care provider during recovery.

General workout recommendations

Mild myocarditis may not significantly affect your daily activities and even you might have no any symptoms. But to keep safe, here are general workout tips to remember:

  1. Listen to your body. Don’t do too soon and too much. Always give your body enough time to rest between workouts. Also the most important thing, do it without getting too tired! Don’t exercise if you’re not well enough!
  2. When you’re ready for outdoor workouts – make sure that it’s not too hot, too cold, or too humid! Bad temperature and humidity can make you get tired quickly, making your heart harder to work. Avoid also exercising in extreme areas (for example, hilly area) to prevent working too hard!
  3. Keep hydrated, but don’t drink too much water to prevent edema (fluid retention). Just make sure that you have enough liquid in the body to support your exercise and activities throughout the day. Edema is common in myocarditis, especially when the disease has become advanced.
  4. Avoid extremely cold or hot showers after workouts otherwise your heart will work harder afterward.

Stop and rest, also call /see your doctor (if necessary) – when you:

  1. Have any unusual symptoms such as chest pain, shortness of breath, fever, joint /body aches, weakness (fatigue), and dizziness (lightheadedness).
  2. Have increased, rapid heart rate (arrhythmias).
  3. Have unintentional weight gain or fluid retention (edema /swelling).
Citations /references:

  1. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/patientinstructions/000094.htm
  2. https://www.nationaljewish.org/conditions/cardiac-conditions/exercise-and-heart-disease