Hypothyroidism is a condition in which the thyroid gland doesn't produce enough thyroid hormone, affecting virtually every system in your body. It can make your muscles feeling weak and achy, or your brain feeling foggy and fuzzy, or your energy tired and depressed. It can be so frustrating and discouraging to find the motivation to do anything.
What then is the best exercise for hypothyroidism? We recommend finding an exercise that actually excites you! Don't run if you hate running, don't lift weights if you hate lifting weights, don't go to Zumba if you hate dancing, don't garden if you hate gardening - you get it.
Ahead, a shortlist of ideas for exercise that you might not hate if you have hypothyroidism
Exercise for hypothyroidism
Water aerobics is what it sounds like: an aerobic exercise in relatively shallow water. This workout is low impact and offers a good stretch. The aerobic level is up to you! You can follow along with the class instruction and still choose when to push and when to rest. The buoyancy of the water reduces the pressure on joints, which can be helpful if you're feeling weak, achy, or stiff from low thyroid hormone production.
Rollerblading is not just for neon 90's kids anymore! This fun, low-impact exercise is beneficial to burn calories, improve balance and coordination, support cardiovascular health, and build muscle (hello, gluteus maximus!). You can skate as transportation or recreation. Try skating to and from your grocery store, on a local bike path, or around the high school track. Just don't forget your helmet!
Aerial yoga is yoga done in a silk hammock suspended from above that can help to achieve and deepen traditional yoga postures. At the same time, the weight of your body is either partially or fully supported. Start with a beginners or basics class where you can go at your own pace. Most aerial gyms and instructors recognize that this is a unique and new form of exercise for many, so they are particularly skilled at walking you through the experience patiently and helping you build strength quickly.
Rebounding is a low-impact exercise, elastically leveraged on a mini-trampoline (or "rebounder.") Jumping on a rebounder gets your blood flowing, boosts your energy, and is fantastic for your lymphatic system. From the comfort of your own home, you can try a super light and inexpensive spring trampoline, or upgrade to an elastic band rebounder that may be more quiet and stable. You can find workouts on YouTube, or bounce to your heart's content with a feel-good playlist.
Tai Chi was originally developed for self-defense and has evolved into a graceful form of exercise that involves a series of movements done in a slow, focused manner in time with your breathing. In addition to being great for relaxation, Tai Chi includes some surprisingly challenging isometric strength-building movements. It can strengthen your legs and core, as well as improve balance and flexibility. You can watch videos or read books about Tai Chi, though we suggest that you seek guidance from a qualified instructor to learn proper techniques.
Barre fitness combines ballet with elements of Pilates, dance, yoga, and strength training. It focuses primarily on high reps of small range movements. People say they enjoy barre for its low impact, low weights, high reps, helpful instructors, and feeling of in-class accountability. Most studios offer different class types so you can keep things interesting, and you can modify exercises to your particular needs. You can even check out ClassPass or StudioHop to offset premium prices and try a few studios in the area.
Wii Fit is an exergaming video game to "play" on the Wii game console. It combines fitness with fun and is a good option for people of all fitness and energy levels to supplement their exercise routine or to start exercising without the pressure of a gym or class setting. You can do activities like boxing, ski slalom, bodyweight training, or our favorite, hula hoop. Users report that the games make exercise fun, and the competitive aspect can help push you to your comfortable edge.
Ever tried the rowing machine at your gym? This exercise is an excellent low-impact exercise that works on all the major muscle groups - working both your upper and lower body. Pull with your upper back, push with your legs, keep your core engaged, and hinge at the hips. Some rowing machines have a little place to put your phone to watch a show while you row, or you could do short intervals to keep yourself from getting bored. If you're feeling fancy, many cities have clubs with adult learn-to-row classes that can be a great way to get outside, learn a new sport, and find a community!
Kundalini yoga incorporates movement, dynamic breathing, meditation, and the chanting of mantras to build increase mental and physical vitality. 3HO says it helps to "balance the glandular system, strengthen the nervous system, expand lung capacity, and purify the blood." Kundalini, which incorporates mantras and meditation as foundation parts of its practice, is different from the popular and more commonly known Hatha yoga, which emphasizes the physical practice of yoga. Many yoga studios offer Kundalini classes, or you can find Kundalini instruction on YouTube.
Podcast While You Walk
Our version of "whistle while you work!" The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that adults engage in 150 minutes of moderate activity per week, which is about 7,000 to 8,000 steps per day. That's a distance of about 3.5 miles, which takes approximately an hour to complete at a moderate pace. Some interesting podcasts of about the same length are This American Life (different stories on a weekly theme, typically 60 minutes), Pop Rocket (a weekly conversation about pop culture, usually about 70 minutes), or The Autoimmune Hour (stories about living with autoimmune conditions, typically 55 minutes).
Before you begin, consider your habits and personal needs. Do you prefer to go straight from work to a workout? Or maybe you want something more gentle like yoga before bed. Perhaps you're one of those magical unicorns who can wake up early to sweat?
Choose a time of day that works for you and stick to it. We know that some days you'll prefer a nap - and that's okay! Listening to your body is essential, and remember that regular physical activity improves your cardiovascular health, which allows more blood and oxygen to get to the body, giving you more energy.