Hypothyroidism And Exercise – The Benefits

Hypothyroidism and exercise: Can exercises help with an under active thyroid?

The thyroid hormones T3 and T4 are responsible for the regulation of a number of bodily functions.  Indeed, some of our most important functions like metabolism, growth and even our reproductive system are all controlled by these thyroid hormones.  Therefore, any deficiency in hormone production by the thyroid gland will lead to problems in these systems.

Hypothyroidism And Exercise – Overcoming An Impaired Metabolism

An impaired metabolism leads to weight gain, a common symptom of hypothyroidism.  It happens because the reduced levels of thyroid hormones means systems affected by this, like our metabolism, can’t function properly.  And because our metabolism isn’t working properly, we also experience lower levels of energy.  We feel lethargic and disinclined to do much exercise.  This in turn means we’re not burning off body fat like we should, with a resultant increase in weight.

Along with weight gain, a patient with inadequate levels of thyroid hormones will have symptoms like:

  • fatigue,
  • tension,
  • skin irritation,
  • intolerance to cold and heat,
  • sudden weight gain or loss,
  • high dehydration,
  • problems related to eye sight,
  • bowel disorders like constipation,
  • heart disorders,
  • menstrual cycle problems,
  • low immunity
  • an enlarged thyroid.

Although these symptoms may initially be very minor, and may not be associated with thyroid problems at all, they should not be ignored or overlooked.  Whilst the hormonal deficiency that comes from an under active thyroid is not completely curable, hypothyroidism can be controlled very easily if treated early enough.

The only way to know for sure whether your symptoms are being caused by your thyroid shutting down is through proper consultation with a physician who will arrange some necessary tests.  Once the results of those have been obtained, you can begin discussing your treatment options with your doctor.  If you have hypothyroidism this will include a suitable hypothyroidism diet, medications and supplements like Thyromine.  And exercise.

Interesting Questions about Thyroid:

How Do Doctors Test For Thyroiditis?

As with any disease, it is important that you watch for the early warning signs of thyroiditis. However, only your doctor can tell for sure whether or not you have the disease. Your doctor may examine:

How is Hyperthyroidism Treated?

The basic goal of treatment is to return thyroid hormone levels to normal.

Hyperthyroidism makes the body work too fast because there is too much thyroid hormone in the blood. Graves’ disease is the most common cause of hyperthyroidism. Graves’ disease occurs because of a problem in the body’s immune system: antibodies are produced that overstimulate the thyroid gland.

Patients who are hyperthyroid from taking too much thyroid hormone need only to have their dosage properly adjusted.

Patients whose hyperthyroidism is caused by transient thyroiditis usually do not require any of the treatments described below, since their condition gets better on its own.

Treatment for hyperthyroidism from Graves’ disease, toxic autonomously functioning thyroid nodule, or toxic multi-nodular goiter may include one or more of the following:

Radioactive iodine (I131)

Radioactive iodine shrinks an enlarged thyroid or toxic nodule or nodules that are making too much thyroid hormone. This treatment is safe and is widely used in adults with hyperthyroidism.

* Radioactive iodine (I131) is the treatment of choice for the majority of the endocrinologists in this country. It is an effective, simple, safe way to treat patients with Graves’ disease or other forms of hyperthyroidism. Patients often have fears and misconceptions about using radioactive iodine.

* Studies have been done since the 1940’s on patients receiving this treatment. Treated patients, their children, and their grandchildren do not have an increased incidence of cancer, leukemia, etc.

* There are no increased instances of birth defects in children born to mothers who have had this treatment and waited the recommended time before becoming pregnant. (Pregnancy should be avoided for at least six months after the treatment.) As a matter of fact, fertility is often restored to women whose infertility is due to hyperthyroidism. Treating the disease also lessens the chance of miscarriage.

* Pregnant women should not be given radioactive iodine for any reason. If a patient has any doubt as to whether she is pregnant, treatment (and testing) with radioactive iodine should be delayed.

* Hospitalization is not required in order to treat hyperthyroidism with radioactive iodine.

* Radioactive iodine treatment ablates the thyroid gland (turns it into something like a dried-up raisin). Patients wishing to avoid destruction of the gland should know that the thyroid gland frequently “burns out” within 15 years even without treatment.

* Radioactive iodine does not cause a person to gain weight. However, because Graves’ disease increases the metabolism, patients should keep in mind that they cannot continue to eat the way they did while hyperthyroid. Because of changes in the metabolism after hyperthyroidism is treated, many patients will gain weight . This weight can be lost through diet and exercise once the thyroid levels are normalized.

Antithyroid drugs

Propylthiouracil (PTU)
Tapazole®

Antithyroid drugs, such as propylthiouracil (PTU) and methimazole (Tapozole®), are used in patients with Graves’ disease and, less commonly, in other hyperthyroid patients

Surgery (thyroidectomy)

In some cases beta-blocking drugs are prescribed to treat the symptoms of hyperthyroidism while waiting for one of the above treatments to work.

Your doctor will be able to discuss the benefits and risks of each treatment.

Many patients treated for hyperthyroidism become hypothyroid. They will need to take thyroid hormone pills for the rest of their lives. In addition, they will need to see their doctor at least once a year.

® Tapozole is a registered trademark of Jones Medical Industries.

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Thyroiditis?

Thyroiditis can cause either hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism, or one followed by the other.

Common signs and symptoms of hyperthyroidism include:

  • fast heart rate (100-120 beats per minute, or higher)
  • nervousness or irritability
  • increased perspiration
  • muscle weakness (especially in the shoulders, hips, and thighs)
  • trembling hands
  • weight loss, in spite of a good appetite.

Common signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism include:

  • slow heart rate (less than 70 beats per minute)
  • feel slow or tired
  • drowsy during the day, even after sleeping all night
  • poor memory
  • difficulty concentrating
  • muscle cramps, numb arms and legs
  • weight gain
  • constipation
  • heavy menstrual flow.

Have more questions? Need more answers? Check our Full Thyroid FAQ

Hypothyroidism And Exercise

Putting on weight leads to a whole host of other health problems so dealing this aspect of hypothyroidism as early as possible is essential.   Importantly, hypothyroidism and exercise definitely go together.  Exercise will help to not only keep those excess pounds at bay, it will also provide many other well-documented benefits.  Exercise increases serotonin levels.  Serotonin is your ‘feel good’ hormone and it boosts mood, fights depression, increases energy levels and improves metabolism.

Some great ideas for hypothyroidism and exercise include doing plenty of aerobic exercises.  Walking, cycling, swimming and elliptical training are a few of the easier types of exercises for hypothyroidism.

So to sum up, if you discover that you are suffering from hypothyroidism it’s not all doom and gloom.  However, you will need to make some significant changes in your life, and your diet.  If you do experience a serious weight gain, it’s important to remember that you must tackle this issue before it starts to cause other serious life threatening conditions.  You’ll find plenty more information regarding diet, hypothyroidism and exercise on the internet.  There are also medical journals published at regular intervals which provide a lot of important and up to date information.

Donna Morgan

Donna Morgan

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