Exercise after getting a pacemaker

Dear all,

I had a pacemaker implanted about 5 and a half weeks ago and am glad to have found this site.  My doctor agreed that I could begin swimming again at six weeks.  I've read in some information posts on the web that it's advisable to start with breaststroke at six weeks, but to wait three months before initiating freestyle and backstroke so as not to risk pulling on the wires.  Do any of you have experience with this?

Also, does anyone know when it's ok to start doing pushups?


Many thanks!




when it's ok to start doing pushups

by Persephone - 2022-04-02 18:17:19

Hi EAJ - it sounds like you're feeling well with your PM which is so wonderful to hear. I can't comment on the swimming, but regarding the pushups, would it be possible for you to start resuming this exercise with a modification, such as standing and using the wall - then if that feels OK, progress to an elevated surface life a bench, and then eventually move on to floor level?  I think 5.5 weeks sound slightly early for a full-on pushup and waiting a bit would be best. This is just based on my post-surgery experience. Good for you for planning to jump back into these activities you enjoy.


by Good Dog - 2022-04-02 18:55:29

I agree with the previous comment (Persephone). I think it is a good idea to wait at least a couple of months before getting into regular floor pushups. I think it is smart to start with the counter or wall pushups till your healing is further along. I had been doing 300 to 400 pushups every other morning for many years without any negative impact on my leads or PM. I also know that we have had weight lifters on this forum, so I am confident it is just a matter of insuring you are well healed. There are also some folks that have their PM implanted beneath the pectoral muscles to insure against lead issues.


by AgentX86 - 2022-04-02 21:52:23

I at about six weeks don't think there is much risk starting pushups. The weight restriction is really to make sure the wound heals.  At six weeks it should be pretty well healed.  Even if the leads weren't fully embedded (they are), the arm motion wouldn't be a problem. Unless there is some unstated problem I can't see an issue here, though a check with your EP's office is advised.

Likewise, there shouldn't be a problem swimming.  The wound should be fully healed (right?) so infection is no longer a problem. Extreme reaching should probably be limited for a while yet but otherwise getting back into it should be OK.

You'll probably not be able to get into either of these activities at the level you're used to right away.  You will likely need some PM tuning to get back to "normal".  These two activities may make this tricky. Be patient but press them to get the optimization you need.

Pushups again

by Good Dog - 2022-04-03 07:32:24

I know it may seem you are getting some mixed messages here. I am sure you realize you are getting opinions mostly based upon our personal experiences. You should always consult your doctor when in doubt. I was trying to address the physical issues with your implant incision and leads. The issue I/we did not really touch on is the question regarding your PM activity sensor/monitor. Not sure if it is turned-on or not. Some folks that exercise/workout need it and some do not. I never needed it, because my heart would take-over with activity on its own. My max rate is set at 120 bpm, but I would get my rate over 150 with exercise. That is obviously not the case with everyone. So as AgentX86 stated, you may need some adjustments by your EP if it is turned-on and you need to rely on it with exercise.

Healing rate

by Theknotguy - 2022-04-03 17:06:59

Everyone heals at a different rate.  Also, after the first implant, nerves and skin have been cut and it takes a while for all of  that to heal.  How you heal depends upon your body.  
 Because of the nerves healing, some people will report pain, others - feelings like "ant bites", unusual feelings, and itching.  It's all normal for the healing process.  
 Even though the outer skin has healed, for some people there is a deeper skin healing that goes on for a while longer. In  doing swimming and pushups, you run the risk of pulling on the lower skin tissue and injuring the wound.  For me, I  went back to working in a wood shop.  I'd be OK during the day, but the next day it would feel like someone wrapped  my pacemaker in sandpaper then scrubbed it around in the pacer pocket.  Nothing was hurt, it was just my body adjusting  to the new situation.  Tylenol, hot packs, and cold packs were my friends.  I had to  back off for a few weeks because I had pulled the lower tissue and it really hurt.  
 My main point is that you should take it really easy at first.  Don't try too much until the wound has healed completely which  will depend upon your body.  And, if you do get a lot of pain, back off.  No reason to delay healing just because you pushed it.
 Otherwise, I hope your adjustment to your pacemaker goes well.

From EAJ on exercise and pacemaker

by EAJ - 2022-04-04 17:03:23

This is a EAJ and I want to thank all of you for sending all of these very helpful thoughts! 

My doctor is always willing to reply to questions but I find the experiences of others to be extremely useful. You've all given me a lot to work with from a variety of perspectives and I'm grateful for this supportive community.  The pacemaker has already improved my life remarkably after a difficult year and I'm looking forward to (slowly) getting back into action. So far, I've only done some stretching and walking, but little by little.....

Best wishes to all of you and thanks again!


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