PT on the Net Research

Underactive Thyroid and Exercise


Do you have any nutritional advice and exercise recommendations for a client with an under active thyroid?


Under active thyroid is also called hypothyroidism. This generally refers to someone who does not produce normal levels of thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH). Thyroid hormones are responsible for metabolic function. They help regulate body temperature and sweating, change the utilization of energy and help regulate cholesterol.

Hypothyroidism may have several reasons for existing. It seems that autoimmune destruction is common. A few symptoms of this are:

Some people become "puffy" from non-pitting edema that accumulates. Hypothyroidism can also be caused from a goiter. Iodine is added to salt to help prevent this problem. People who do not take in enough Iodine can get a change in TSH. With that in mind, eating plenty of seafood products, especially the seaweed type, and taking a good multi-vitamin may help your client.

As ALWAYS, anybody who is starting an exercise program and has special needs must get cleared by their health care professional (HCP). The HCP will examine the need for medications and safety issues for exercise. Almost 99 percent of the time, people with hypothyroidism NEED to exercise. This is the primary tool for making the metabolism get fired up.

Training ideas really start with what the person can tolerate. In most cases, getting the heart rate up is hard to do because the bradycardia response some people exhibit. Use the RPE scale (1-10) and keep the training effort around 5-7. Other ideas include: 

Listen to your client and use common sense. If he or she is "up," then train hard. If "tired," then slow it down. Good luck with the training.