The right hypothyroidism exercise can help you manage your symptoms and improve your quality of life. Find out the best exercises for you below.
In this article:
5 Exercises for an Underactive Thyroid
Exercise and Hypothyroidism
As tiny as it is, the thyroid gland plays a huge part in your body physiology. This little gland secretes triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4) needed in metabolism regulation—a process where the foods you eat are converted into energy.
Thyroid health is closely related to a person’s cortisol and thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) levels. High cortisol levels and low TSH levels in the body result in an underactive thyroid or hypothyroidism.
People with hypothyroidism have a slow metabolism due to low levels of triiodothyronine and thyroxine. This results in weight gain, fatigue, and sluggishness.
Other functions of the thyroid include:
- Helping the liver in breaking down cholesterol in the blood
- Stimulating other enzymes required in getting rid of triglycerides (another kind of blood fat)
Aside from getting medication to keep your thyroid hormones in balance, exercise is an important part of managing hypothyroidism symptoms.
- It lets you burn calories fighting the weight gain brought by your underactive metabolism.
- It can lift your mood by releasing happy hormones like endorphins.
What Exercises Work Best for Hypothyroidism?
If you have your thyroid hormones in check through medication, you can perform the same physical activities as somebody with a healthy thyroid. However, if you are just starting to device a workout strategy or still managing with symptoms, low-impact strength and aerobic exercises are ideal.
Since hypothyroidism can cause swelling and pain in the muscles and joints, you need to perform a workout that wouldn’t put your body under much pressure.
Here are some of the best exercises you can try:
Do not underestimate the benefits of walking. It’s simple, does not need expensive gear, and you can do it literally anywhere.
Start your day with a 30 minute to an hour walk to get your blood running. Depending on your weight and how fast you walk, you can burn 80-160 calories per mile of walking.
Yoga can help in stretching and strengthening your muscles. By focusing on breathing, it can also help with fatigue by relaxing your body.
In one study, subjects with hypothyroidism had seen better lung strength after 6 months of yoga breathing.
The best yoga poses for thyroid disorders will help in increasing blood flow to the thyroid gland, relieving stress, and calming anxiety. Here are some poses you can try:
- Viparita Karani (Inverted Pose)
- Ustrasana (Camel Pose)
- Sarvangasana (Shoulder Stand)
- Setu Bandhasana (Bridge Pose)
- Halasana (Plough Pose)
3. Water Aerobics
For those with swollen ankles or feet, some exercises may be extremely painful. Doing water aerobics is a great option.
The water will provide enough support for you and will decrease the impact on your joints.
4. Tai Chi
Tai chi is a graceful form of exercise also called the “moving meditation.” This ancient Chinese tradition is done with a series of movements done in a slow, focused manner and partnered with deep, mindful breathing.
5. Strength Training
Hypothyroidism patients can benefit from strength training, may it be using one’s body weight or equipment. Strength training increases muscle mass resulting in a higher resting metabolic rate, ultimately helping with weight loss—unexplained weight gain is often a symptom of an underactive thyroid.
Resting Metabolic Rate Definition: The rate at which the body burns energy when completely at rest
Here are some of the strength training exercises you can add to your routine:
- Stand on one leg. Hold onto something for balance and not for support.
- Place one hand in front of your thigh, relaxed.
- As far back as you can, push your hips until your hand reaches the floor.
- Come back up to stimulate the glutes.
- Prevent your back from curving when doing the exercise. It should be straight but not upright.
- Do 3 sets of 10 to 12 reps.
- Bring a pair of dumbbells to shoulder height with the arms facing forward.
- Lift the weights until the elbows are straight.
- Bring the weights back to your shoulders.
- Do 3 sets of 12-15 reps.
- Stand straight, feet slightly wider than hip-width apart, toes turned out a little bit, palms in, and arms at your side.
- Keep your chest up, core engaged, and back flat while bringing your weight into your heels. Move your hips back, lower into a squat by bending your knees.
- Bring your palms together in front, elbows bent.
- Stand by driving through your heels and squeeze the glutes at the top of the movement.
- Do 3 sets of 10-12 reps.
- Sit down on a pull-down machine and grab the bar with an overhand grip (palms facing away). Adjust the knee pad to suit your height.
- Pull the bar down to your collarbone.
- Keep a straight back and ensure that the bar move as close to your face as possible.
- Lie on the floor face down, hands shoulder-width apart, feet stretched out and together. You should be holding your torso up at arms’ length.
- As you inhale, bend your elbows to bring yourself down until your chest is near the floor.
- Press your body up using your triceps and chest muscles to the starting position while breathing out.
- Pause for a second at the top of the movement.
- Do 3 sets of 10-12 reps.
- Sit on the rowing machine bench and grab onto the handles attached to the cable.
- With your back straight and leaned back at about 10 to 15 degrees, pull the cable back until the handle reaches your torso.
- Release the weight under control.
- Do 3 sets of 10-12 reps.
Pair your exercises with some natural foods to balance your thyroid health! Check out this video:
If you are diagnosed with hypothyroidism and want to start any kind of workout routine, it’s best to talk to your doctor first.
Slowly go your way through your new workout routine—take breaks when needed and stop if you’re hurting. As you progress, you’ll feel more comfortable with the movements and work your way up to more complicated routine.
How do you exercise for your thyroid? Share your best practices in the comments section below!