Hypothyroid Disorder and Exercise
by Christina Lahiri, RN
Health and Wellness Director, Merlino Fitness


The thyroid gland is a small gland located at the front of the neck just below your Adams apple.  The thyroid glands function is to run the body’s metabolism by secreting thyroid hormones called T3 and T4.  When the gland fails to secrete these hormones, we are diagnosed with the autoimmune disorder called Hypothyroidism. [1]

The thyroid gland is controlled by another gland located in the brain called the Pituitary gland, which produces the Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH).  When our thyroid gland decreases the production of T3 and T4, the pituitary gland will try to compensate by releasing more TSH thus causing an elevated TSH. [2]

Understandably, those with Hypothyroid Disorder will have typical symptoms of slow metabolism such as:

Weight gain   
Loss of coordination
Increased cholesterol
Hair Loss
Decreased Libido
Muscle cramps
Memory Loss
Cold intolerance
Dry skin
Irregular menstrual cycles
Muscle weakness

Of course symptoms will vary according to each individual.  Why is exercise of vital importance to those of us with hypothyroid disorder?  First of all slower metabolism causes higher susceptibility to carbohydrate absorption, simple sugars such as pasta, white rice, potatoes, sweets and the like.  This combined with fatigue, lack of energy and for some, the rare case of increased insulin resistance is the perfect combination for weight gain among other problems such as diabetes, heart disease etc.

Moderate exercise on a regular basis, 4 to 5 times a week for at least 30 minutes a day will increase the body’s metabolic rate. Increased metabolic rate will decrease fatigue and increase insulin uptake to help burn more calories, which in turn will decrease appetite.  Exercise will also increase Serotonin uptake in the brain, relieving many symptoms of depression caused by hypothyroidism.  In other words, exercise can counter-act many of the risk factors listed above caused by hypothyroidism.

Hypothyroid Disorder is easily managed by taking daily thyroid medication prescribed by your Physician.  Medication combined with regular exercise allows those of us with hypothyroid disorder to live a very normal, healthy and active lifestyle.

[1] Tabers Cyclopedic Medical Dictionary

[2] endocrineweb.com

Currently, Christina is employed as a triage/nurse educator in Houston, Texas for one of nine physicians specializing in OB/Gyn. She is also the new Health and Wellness director for Merlino Fitness and will be writing articles on general health and wellness and women's health. Christina can be reached in Houston at 713.523.2577 or e-mail her at christina@merlinofitness.com.

View Christina's Bio

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