9 Exercises to Fight Hypothyroidism

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Exercise has several major specific benefits for people with hypothyroidism:

  • It helps you achieve and maintain a healthy weight. A very common side effect of hypothyroidism is weight gain. Many people with hypothyroidism also report feeling tired and sluggish, which makes them less inclined to be physically active. But a sedentary lifestyle also makes you more likely to pack on a few unwanted pounds. Exercise is the solution to that problem.

  • It can help improve your cardiovascular health. Getting regular exercise benefits your heart and your cardiovascular system. People with hypothyroidism need to watch their "bad" cholesterol levels, which can increase their risk of developing heart disease.

  • It improves your mood and energy levels. Remember the fatigue and sluggish feelings that are the unpleasant hallmarks of hypothyroidism? Exercise promotes the production of those feel-good chemicals known as endorphins. Endorphins are neurotransmitters, which means they transmit electrical signals through your body. They can reduce your perception of pain, modulate your appetite and even reduce some of the side effects of stress and anxiety. Ever heard of the "runner's high"? That's endorphins at work.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend aiming for 150 minutes of moderately intense aerobic exercise or 75 minute of vigorous intensity aerobic exercise each week. Add to your list some strength-training to build and maintain muscle mass at least two days per week.

Hypothyroidism Lifestyle Changes

Talk to your doctor and add some of these exercises to your workout routine.

    Aerobic Activities

  1. Walking. No matter how out-of-shape you may claim to be, you can start by walking short distances. Gradually increase your speed and distance over time as you're able.

  2. Jogging or running. Feel like you're ready to take things to the next level? Try increasing your pace to a jog. Use an app on your smartphone to help you track your speed and distance.

  3. Biking. Whether you prefer a stationary bike, a mountain bike, or a traditional two-wheeler with a bell, riding a bicycle is great cardiovascular exercise that can put less strain on your knees than jogging or running.

  4. Dancing. Recreation and community centers and dance studios offer a plethora of dance classes for adults. Pick your favorite style and get down!

  5. Swimming. Maybe you like the backstroke, or perhaps the good old-fashioned crawl. Whatever your favorite stroke is, don't be afraid to get your hair wet. Jump in and swim a few laps, or use a kickboard to work on your legs.

  6. Pushing a lawnmower. Yes, maintaining your yard can help you maintain a healthy body, too. Of course, you do have to walk and push the lawnmower yourself for this to count as exercise—riding mowers are disqualified.

  7. Strength-Building Activities

  8. Lifting weights. Free weights or weight machines, you pick whatever works best for you. Before you try a new activity, check with a trainer to make sure you're using proper form, so you can avoid injury. Do one set to start with, and work your way up to two or three sets per session.

  9. Using resistance bands. Resistance bands resemble long, heavy-duty rubber bands, and some even come with padded handles. The more you stretch them, the more resistance they offer. You can use them just about anywhere.

  10. Use your own body for resistance. These types of activity have a couple of big advantages—you don't have to buy any special equipment, nor do you have to go anywhere to do them. You can do push-ups, sit-ups, abdominal crunches, and leg squats in your own home.

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Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Last Review Date: 2021 Jul 2
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.
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  2. How much physical activity do adults need? Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/everyone/guidelines/adults.html
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  4. Strength training: Get stronger, leaner, healthier. Mayo Clinic. http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/strength-training/art-20046670
  5. Exercise and stress: Get moving to manage stress. Mayo Clinic. http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/exercise-and-stress/art-20044...
  6. Selecting and Effectively Using Rubber Band Resistance Exercise. American College of Sports Medicine handout. https://www.acsm.org/docs/brochures/selecting-and-effectively-using-rubber-band-resistance-exercise....