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December 06th, 2021
Healthy Lifestyles

thyroidPeople diagnosed with an underactive thyroid condition may have to make several changes to their lifestyles to feel well and maintain a healthy weight.

The thyroid is a tiny gland located in the neck that produces a hormone to regulate one’s metabolism, or the process that converts what a person eats and drinks into energy. With hypothyroidism, also known as an underactive thyroid, production of that thyroid hormone is insignificant, resulting in a dramatically slower metabolism. 

The endocrinology health site Endocrine Web estimates approximately 10 million Americans have hypothyroidism. The reasons the thyroid gland falters vary. But the symptoms may include fatigue, weakness, weight gain or increased difficulty losing weight, hair loss, muscle aches, depression, and irritability. 

Each of the side effects associated with thyroid conditions can be troublesome, but many people with thyroid issues struggle most with weight gain and their inability to keep weight off. The president of the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists, R. Mack Harrell, MD, says to first visit a doctor, who can determine if a synthetic thyroid hormone medication can help. Regular exercise also can be an important part of the strategy to lose weight and manage other hypothyroidism symptoms.

Christian Nasr, MD, an endocrinologist with the Cleveland Clinic, advises his patients to wait a few weeks before exercising so that their condition is controlled with medication. After that waiting period is over, gradually easing back into exercise can help with the fatigue and weight gain that may not abate with thyroid medications.

The online health resource Everyday Health advises a program of low-impact aerobic exercises and strength training. The aerobics will raise the heart rate without putting too much pressure on the joints. These exercises include using a stationary bicycle or a low-impact elliptical machine. Pilates and gentle yoga can improve core muscles and help alleviate joint pain as well.

Incorporating strength training into a workout can help build muscle mass, which burns calories, even when a person is at rest. That can be essential for a person finding it difficult to control his or her weight due to a sluggish metabolism.

Additional benefits of exercising are improved mood and reduced inflammation. Exercising can release endorphins into the body to help fight off depression. Also, researchers from the University of California-San Diego School of Medicine found a single 20-minute session of exercise was enough to trigger something called sympathoadrenergic activation, which suppresses the production of monocytic cytokines in the body that produce an inflammatory response in the immune system. That means exercise can keep inflammation in check.

Hypothyroidism is a common condition that produces various unwanted side effects. However, with proper care and exercise, many symptoms can be managed effectively.

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