Article 3: Exercise and Dietary Intervention For Hypothyroidism

The symptoms of hypothyroidism can be frustrating, alarming and altogether exhausting. When your thyroid is irregular, exercise may be the last thing you feel like doing, but it could be one of the best. A regular exercise plan, along with nutritional support may help alleviate some common hypothyroid symptoms such as fatigue, depression, digestive issues and sore muscles. Here are some strategies to assuage your symptoms.

Do what you can, when you can. Hypothyroidism can make walking feel like running. Setting small goals will allow you to build an exercise program that you can stay with and progress as needed. Recent research has shown that an hour of moderate physical activity each day can increase circulating levels of TSH. [1] If you can’t run, walk, and if a walk feels overwhelming, embark on a stretching or yoga routine to unwind, and relax tender muscles.

Don’t have a free hour every day? Take comfort in research from The University of Gaziantep in Turkey.[2] Scientists have found that working out for brief intervals at anaerobic threshold (about 70% max heart rate) acutely improves circulating levels of TSH. After just nine minutes of high-intensity exercise, participants showed increased TSH levels. Combat fatigue at home with circuits of jumping jacks, jump rope, core work, squat jumps and stairs. Pick your favorite exercise and begin with one-minute intervals to get started. As you feel more comfortable, progress in intensity or time.

Fitness is also a great way to combat the anxiety and depression that can accompany hypothyroidism. While exercise may be the all-around best mood enhancer, finding the motivation when you’re feeling low can be a challenge. Schedule wellness classes with friends, commit to a walking group or a team sport and keep a journal of how you feel before and after each fitness session to bolster and move yourself.

Nutritional support can be an equally important part of self-care when contending with a thyroid condition. Studies by the National Institute of Public Medicine have found that selenium may decrease anti-TPO anti-bodies in patients with Hashimotos Thyroiditis. [3] It is important to check with your doctor before taking any supplements. Selenium is also readily available in a variety of foods. Seafood, brazil nuts, poultry, eggs, shellfish, and seeds are all great sources of selenium. The daily recommendation of selenium for adults is 55 mcg.

Living with hypothyroidism can be a challenge but this is your life. Some days will be harder than others. Do what you can when you can. Record when you feel at your best. Augment your self-care with nutritional support. Find ways to make exercise a fun and fulfilling part of your day. You’re doing great.

[1] “The effect of regular physical exercise on the thyroid function of treated hypothyroid patients.”

[2] “Exercise Intensity and Its Effects On Thyroid Hormones”

[3] “Selenium and the Thyroid Gland: More Good News For Clinicians.”