Dos And Don’ts of Exercising With Hashimoto’s
One of my biggest goals in life right now is to get back onto a regular workout routine. With Rama about to start preschool soon (there was a start delay of 2 weeks because of Covid) this might finally become a reality. I know from past experience that when getting back into working out, I jump back into it full force. It never ends up being a good idea though. After a week or two of hard work, I usually have a flare-up every.
I’m sure anyone dealing with Hashimoto’s, as well as other autoimmune disorders, knows how debilitating the accompanying fatigue is. Not to mention other symptoms like achy muscles and joints, brain fog, and migraines. So this time around I’m going to be very mindful and stick to a plan while easing back into exercise. And I’m sharing this list of dos and don’ts of exercising with Hashimoto’s that I’ve learned over the years.
The information on this site is based on my own personal experiences. It’s not intended to be used as health, fitness, mental health, or medical advice as I am not a doctor.
Dos And Don’ts of Exercising With Hashimoto’s
Talk To Your Doctor
I hope that if you either suspect you have Hashimoto’s or Hypothyroidism or you have been diagnosed with either, that you have regular checkups with a good doctor. Working with your doctor to make sure your thyroid hormone medication is at the right levels is imperative to managing symptoms.
If you’re new to exercise or just getting back into it, it’s a good idea to slowly build up to where you’d like to be. Start with shorter sessions, lower intensity, and lighter weights. This way your body can acclimate to the extra work. Once you know your body is doing good tolerating that amount of physical activity, you can add more time and intensity to your workouts.
Remember To Stretch
Some people with Hashimoto’s and hypothyroidism experience a lot of joint pain, sore muscles, and stiffness. Incorporating a stretching routine before your work out and again as you cool down after your training is very important. Maintaining joint mobility and overall flexibility can help prevent stress and injury.
Try Low Impact Exercises
If joint pain is an issue, choose low-impact forms of cardio that will still increase your heart rate with minimal amounts of stress on your joints and bones. Swimming, rowing, cycling, and the elliptical are all great no-impact or low-impact forms of cardio.
Incorporate Strength Training
Never underestimate the benefits of building strong muscles! Stronger muscles help support joints, thus reducing joint pain. Lifting weights also helps build bone density, which can help offset age-related declines in bone mass. This is especially important because thyroid hormone affects the rate of bone replacement. Strength training also has the incredible benefit of elevating a person’s overall basal metabolic rate (BMR) for up to 48 hours. BMR is the number of calories that the body burns while at rest. This is especially helpful for those of us trying to maintain or lose weight.
Try And Be Active Most Days Of The Week
Consistently moving your body helps boost blood flow and raise endorphins and burn calories. Which is helpful in reducing pain and maintaining weight. But this doesn’t have to mean 2-hour gym sessions every day. Even 30 minutes a day is incredibly beneficial, and 5 days a week should be a goal.
Mix Things Up
Workouts don’t have to look the same every day. In fact, switching things up and trying new things can help you maximize the benefits of exercising. Find what works best for you, but consider including weight training, multiple forms of cardio, and stretching, like yoga and pilates to your routine.
Be Careful Not To Overdo It
Be careful not to overdo it, especially in the beginning. Over-exerting yourself could lead to an injury or a flare-up which will only set you back. You want to be feeling energized from your workouts rather than over fatigued. If your body is handling your new routine well, and you’re getting enough sleep, then you are probably ready to take your workouts to the next level. It’s a good idea to work on lengthening your duration first. And then works towards building intensity.
Consider Working With A Personal Trainer
If you’re completely unsure where to start, working with a personal trainer is a good investment in your health. They will be able to teach you what exercises you should be doing, and proper form. This can help you avoid injury as well as keep you accountable. This doesn’t have to be forever either. Even after a few months, you can be comfortable training on your own. Or they can help you reach a specific goal. If you do decide to hire a trainer, be sure to check for their qualifications. If you’re going to invest your time and money in someone, you want to be sure they know what they’re doing.
Listen To Your Body
Because Hashimoto symptoms vary from person to person, it’s important to listen to your body. What your body can handle will be very different from someone else’s. And your flare-up symptoms can be completely different from what someone else with Hashimoto’s experiences.
Symptoms that I personally experience with a flareup are fatigue, heart palpitations, migraines, trouble sleeping, increased joint pain, brain fog, as well as hair shedding. And then there’s the higher body temperature that feels like a low-grade fever for weeks and anxiety that is only made worse by dealing with all this!
My hope is that anyone living with autoimmune and chronic illness is able to find the support they need to live their best lives. Fitness is a journey and one that has a lot of ups and downs, especially with the added health issues. But it’s still entirely possible.
I’d love to know what tips and advice you’ve found to be most helpful on your own fitness journey? Please share in the comments below!