LOVE LESSON #4 – Find the right exercise balance
When you’re in the throes of hypothyroidism, sometimes it’s unimaginable that you’ll ever have the desire to exercise again. Then comes the weight gain.
You’ve tried everything but you can’t seem to lose weight so you decide to dedicate yourself and try out all those high-impact exercise programs that help your friends lose weight. You know the ones, they’re fun. They involve pushing it to the max – cross-training, running, aerobics, dancing, high intensity.
Your determination is fierce. Initially, you feel great. With every bead of sweat, your endorphins kick in, your mood elevates and you begin to feel like yourself again. But then you crash – you fail to lose weight, you find yourself battling fatigue, irritability and colds and flus.
You may actually gain weight. You’re confused. This seems completely counter-intuitive especially since many of us are even happy if we can drag our little bums out to exercise on those high fatigue days but exercising too much can not only keep you from healing, it can make your situation worse. How can exercise be harmful to my health?
While it IS important to incorporate daily exercise into your routine for healing and good health, studies show that over-exercising can actually deplete your system. Exercising too much increases inflammation, depresses immunity, depletes hormones, slows healing and can lead to bone loss. If you’re trying to manage a thyroid disease, all of these factors can work against your healing. You can actually burn yourself out.
If you have a low functioning thyroid, studies have shown that athletic performance is affected in several ways. Hypothyroidism creates more weakness in the muscles and cramping. It also impairs cardiac function and blood flow (I’m sure you’ve felt that before). In addition, hypothyroidism dampens the body’s ability to use fatty acids for energy which limits your endurance.
When you over-train, it causes your body to pump out extra cortisol (the stress hormone) which has been linked to increased belly fat, bone loss, muscle breakdown, sugar cravings (holla!) It can also lead to insulin resistance which is a pre-diabetic condition that causes high blood sugar. We already have too many stress inducing stimuli in our current daily lives. Daily stress causes chronic inflammation in the body which ages the body more quickly and who needs that? Don’t let exercise, which should be a force for healing, be another thing that creates stress in the body.
How much exercise is too much? Since everyone’s body is different, this varies from person to person. Listen to your body. What signals are you receiving? Are you gaining weight, fatigued, experiencing low stamina and sleep disturbances? Are your symptoms getting worse? That’s a good clue.
You’ll know you’ve found the right balance when you get a boost of energy and an overall sense of well being. You should not want to collapse after exercise. You should experience a comfortable level of muscle soreness, mental focus and good mood if you are exercising in your personal fitness zone.
Important takeaway – you need daily, low-impact exercise and sufficient rest between exercise sessions to help you get fitter faster and to avoid compromising your thyroid health.
ACTION STEP: Commit to one low-impact exercise to do every day this week.
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