Can you exercise with hypothyroidism?
I've recently been asked a lot of questions exercising with hypothyroidism. I wanted to shed some light on this topic since I know so many women are usually trying to lose weight with a slow thyroid.
So first and foremost, probably one of the worst things that you could do when you do struggle with hypothyroidism is to create a scenario where you're stressing your body out excessively by doing exercise. And what I mean by that is doing long-duration cardio, getting on there for hours on end because you think that's the next best thing to try to lose that weight that is lingering.
It is a stressor on the body when you put your body through that much intensity and it's not going to help you in the end. It will create a situation where you will actually release more cortisol. Cortisol is your fight or flight hormone and stress hormone and it has to be released when there is a stressor.
A chronic elevation of cortisol is just going create more of a stress response. And unfortunately what happens is your thyroid will actually react to that. The thyroid and the adrenals are so closely connected and it actually will inhibit some thyroid hormone conversion. And one of the reasons is does it does is when you are trying to convert T4 over to T3 (which is super crucial because you only make about 20% T3) you can't get that converted over because there's a chronic stress thing going on. And you end up reverting it backwards and you create more reverse T3. This is inactive T3.
So chronic elevation of stress from exercise will create that situation. And I see this very commonly. If you keep doing this to your body your thyroid will respond to it. So doing those intense workouts and making your cardio sessions longer is not the way to go.
One of the things that I particularly prefer is strength training by getting some weight training in. It's so good for your body. You need it on so many different levels but your thyroid will really react to it. And one of the reasons is you're stimulating muscle growth and muscle tone. And when you're doing something like weight training your heart rate will go up and down because you do a set and then you stop you pause for a second and you go on to the next exercise. In between sets in between reps you're going to actually have a drop down in heart rate and then it goes back up. So that fluctuation in the heart rate is actually going to be better for your thyroid because you're not constantly stressing the body out and you're not constantly creating this release of cortisol.
The other factor that I love with that is it doesn't have to be a long workout. 30 minutes of that and you can get a really good workout in with some great strength training that your body can tolerate. And you pick the exercises that are gonna work for you.
My recommendation is to pick functional movements. What I mean by functional movements is like a squat pattern. Everyone needs to squat. If you have to go to the bathroom, you have to squat down. So functional movements will be better. Even doing like a dead-lift pattern.
Yoga and Pilates I do like those as well. They're great to just settle the mind, settle the body, get some good core work in. You also get some stretching in as well which is all great for the body. I do suggest if you're doing those to still also have some strength training connected with that.
Doing some type of interval is also a great way to exercise but you have to keep it short and do movements that you like. Otherwise it will be too stressful on the body. And I only recommend this once or twice a week.
I would love to know just out of curiosity what is your favorite form of exercise?
If you need help with that, then please reach out to me.
You can also grab my FREE guide on The Secret to Reading Your Thyroid Blood Test right here.