When you have hypothyroidism, it can feel like a challenge to just get through your normal routine, what with all the aches and pains. To top it, you feel tired all the time. Making an exercise routine and following it seems like the Holy Grail…nevertheless, you know you must move and be active to beat those symptoms and maintain a healthy weight. The truth is, with the appropriate exercise regimen, not only can you fight hypothyroidism, but also build your strength, sleep well, and best of all: feel better!
A Word About The Thyroid Gland
The thyroid gland releases two hormones: T3 and T4 that do the following:
- regulate metabolism and convert the food you eat into energy
- regulate body temperature and heart rate
Insufficient T3 and T4 can lead to exhaustion, extra weight, body ache, hair loss, an upset digestive system, and body temperature that’s out of whack. Add to it, overall irritability. Not a pleasant experience. While treatment via synthetic thyroid hormones can help beat some of the symptoms, it isn’t enough. To feel better, it is important to make lifestyle changes.
The Importance Of Exercise For Those Suffering From Hypothyroidism
In general, exercise is part of a healthy, stress-free lifestyle with the added benefit of looking good. For those with hypothyroidism, and women, in particular, it is crucial to find the right exercise regimen—and stick to it. Exercise not only helps shed excess weight and keep it away but also strengthens the muscles. This improves metabolism, keeping your heart healthy, which is important for thyroid health. Also, a fitness routine is great for mental wellbeing and helps you sleep better.
Suggested Workouts For Women With Hypothyroidism
Remember that if your thyroid is under control, your workout options are similar to that of a healthy person. However, if you are trying to manage the symptoms and just contemplating an exercise plan, pick something gentle that also helps with strength training. Hypothyroidism, as you obviously know, causes muscle and joint aches. Intense exercise can do more harm than good.
I won’t intimidate you with strenuous workout recommendations. I understand that whatever exercise plan you choose must be easy and doable any time. So here are four effective workout suggestions.
Walking is my personal favourite and I love that it is possible to do at any time and costs nothing, except a comfortable pair of shoes. If you can manage a walk in the morning, you get the bonus of your day’s dose of Vitamin D. Enjoying the sunshine before 11 a.m. boosts the production of melatonin, helping you sleep better.
What if your joint pains are intense? Try walking on a treadmill or in the swimming pool, if you can. When you walk in water, it lessens the impact on your joints. I know it can be hard to find the motivation to walk, so why not rope in a buddy to join you? It will keep you on track, literally and make it more fun.
If you are able to cycle or swim, that’s great too.
There is nothing like yoga to put you on the path to mental and physical fitness. You will need comfortable clothing and a yoga mat. Restorative yoga brings muscular activity blended with mental focus, making you aware of yourself, your breath, and your energy. If you are under stress of any kind, yoga is ideal as it helps to overcome your response to stress, thanks to the regulated breathing. It also promotes calm and reduces anxiety, and this naturally leads to better moods. Yoga triggers the relaxation response, thereby nurturing thyroid health. Avoid hot yoga and any exercise that raises body heat.
- Strength Training
Nothing over-strenuous here; just some gentle weight lifting or using your own body weight, as this can help strengthen your muscles. This, in turn, helps with weight loss even when you are not working out, besides reducing joint pains. Go for hand weights or resistance bands. Resistance training tones the body and keeps it fit and firm. A wonderful side-effect of working on being fit is improved self-confidence and that’s a great feeling. Start with one-kilogram dumbbells and gradually increase based on your comfort. No dumbbells? No problem. Fill two 500 ml bottles with water and use that, to start with.
Referred to as moving meditation, Tai chi is quite popular these days. It involves gentle movements that not only improve strength, balance and mood but keep you calm and stress-free. See if you can find a class nearby.
Some Points To Remember
Here are some tips when you get started with exercise:
- If swimming works for you, do avoid chlorinated pools. Pick saltwater pools instead. If you live close to the sea, that’s perfect.
- Avoid endurance training as it can worsen your condition, leading to muscle and joint pain.
- If you are thinking of approaching a trainer, pick one who is compassionate and understands your limitations, while encouraging you.
- Only opt for a low-impact exercise that makes you feel comfortable.
Before you get started, do consult your doctor for specific advice based on your unique health status. Stay healthy!