One of the biggest misconceptions about working out is that the more tired a person is after a session, the more effective the exercise was. In truth, healthcare experts are actually against overtraining as it can have a huge toll on the health of your thyroid.
Exercise must be done in moderation. Otherwise, it will only bring additional stress to your body and impair the thyroid’s proper functioning. The thyroid gland is responsible for releasing hormones in the body. These hormones regulate metabolism, breathing, heart rate, central and peripheral nervous systems, body weight, muscle strength, menstrual cycles, body temperatures, and cholesterol levels, to name a few. Once the thyroid gland is damaged, many bodily functions will be affected.
Symptoms of overtraining are similar to that of thyroid dysfunction and are often seen in lab test results of athletes. However, athletes have coaches and exercise programs to follow. This means they have a way of destressing their bodies, and avoiding overtraining. Casual exercisers, on the other hand, follow no particular science when working out, and are more prone to over-exertion during exercise.
What happens when we exercise?
Cortisol stress hormones are naturally produced by your body when you exercise as a response to a training stressor. For as long as it’s kept to a minimum, there shouldn’t be an issue. However, high levels of cortisol are released in the body when you overtrain, which is bad news for your thyroid.
When cortisol levels are high, it can cause more inflammation in the body. If this happens, the TSH hormones responsible for sending messages between the brain and the thyroid are affected, and the thyroid fails to function properly.
Too much stress can adversely affect your thyroid, which may cause symptoms of fatigue, brain fog, weight gain, low libido, low mood, cold hands and feet, etc.
In other words, the belief that exercising hard for extended periods of time is a good way to destress is false. It’s actually bringing more harm to your body.
Taking care of your thyroid
There are many factors which can negatively affect thyroid function. It’s important to know and understand them to be able to turn the tables around before it’s too late. Some of them include:
- Sedentary lifestyle – People who rarely move within the day are most likely to become overweight. This kind of lifestyle, combined with overeating, is a common cause of high blood sugar and insulin levels, which are both bad for the thyroid.
- Over-exercising – Experts say a common mistake by clients with thyroid dysfunction is thinking that adding volume to their workout programs will help them lose weight. On the contrary, patients need to train smarter, not harder, to effectively address the issue. As mentioned above, too much exercise will cause the body to produce more stress hormones.
- Unbalanced training – To be able to reap good results from working out, it’s essential to work on all three primary energy systems – aerobic, lactic and alactic. However, most people only focus on high-intensity training which is good for lactic and alactic, leaving the aerobic base of fitness behind. Training experts say this is a perfect recipe for overtraining and exacerbating thyroid dysfunctions.
- Too much on HIIT – HIIT, or high-intensity interval training, is what most people go for because it easily pumps the blood up, causes more sweat, and gives the “burning feeling.” What they don’t know is that pushing the lactic system too hard can cause excessive stress on the nervous system. Often, the repercussions are increased stress, increased craving for sweets, and increased caloric intake.
- Not enough lifting – People think that lifting weights mostly means bulking up. But the truth is, it’s the best way to get lean and strong and lose that extra fat.
Exercising greatly helps in addressing thyroid issues, as long as it’s done the right way, in moderate amounts. Health experts recommend going for slow and continuous workouts and prioritize weight-lifting.
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