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Is training good or bad for your thyroid function?

Written by: Natasha Edwards

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Time to read 9 min

 

Are you aware of the crucial role your thyroid plays in your overall health? This small, butterfly-shaped gland in your neck is responsible for regulating numerous bodily functions, from your metabolism to your digestive system.


Let’s discuss the various thyroid conditions such as hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, and Hashimoto's disease, and their potential symptoms.


We'll also explore how factors like stress and exercise can impact your thyroid health. 

thyroid, hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism, Hashimoto

1. What thyroid conditions are there

Understanding and managing your thyroid health is crucial due to the significant role the thyroid plays in regulating your body's metabolism. Regular thyroid tests, such as blood tests and imaging tests, are essential for early detection of conditions like hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism. Early detection can lead to timely intervention, potentially preventing severe symptoms and complications. In addition to regular testing, adopting a proactive approach to health is highly recommended.

thyroid, hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism, Hashimoto

1.1. Understanding Hyperthyroidism


Hyperthyroidism, also known as an overactive thyroid, is a condition where the thyroid gland produces excessive amounts of thyroid hormones, thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3).


These hormones play a critical role in regulating the body's metabolism, affecting processes like heart rate, body temperature, and energy levels .


When there's an overproduction of these hormones, it can lead to symptoms such as nervousness, mood swings , weight loss , and an irregular heart rate .


Graves' disease is the most common cause of hyperthyroidism, accounting for about 80% of cases .


It's an autoimmune condition where the immune system produces antibodies that stimulate the thyroid to produce too much thyroid hormone .


Other causes include thyroid nodules and certain medications.


If left untreated, hyperthyroidism can lead to serious complications like heart problems and a life-threatening condition called a thyroid storm .


If you experience symptoms of an overactive thyroid, it's crucial to seek medical attention quickly. 

"At the end of the day, your health is your responsibility."

Jillian Michaels

1.2. Understanding hypothyroidism


Hypothyroidism, also known as an underactive thyroid, is a condition where the thyroid gland doesn't produce enough thyroid hormones.


When the thyroid is underactive, bodily processes slow down , impacting various functions such as heart rate, body temperature, and digestion.


Symptoms of hypothyroidism can include fatigue, weight gain, depression, and sensitivity to cold .


It's important to note that hypothyroidism can affect anyone but is more common in women and people over the age of 60

Women's Health

1.3. Delving into Hashimoto's Disease

Hashimoto's disease, also known as chronic lymphocytic thyroiditis, is a common cause of hypothyroidism , a condition characterised by an underactive thyroid.


Unlike hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism results from insufficient production of thyroid hormones.


In Hashimoto's disease, the immune system mistakenly attacks the thyroid gland, leading to inflammation and impaired thyroid function.


This autoimmune disorder often results in a slow but progressive destruction of the thyroid gland, causing a gradual decrease in thyroid hormone production.


The presence of  thyroid peroxidase (TPO) antibodies in the blood is a common marker for Hashimoto's disease.


Symptoms of Hashimoto's disease may include fatigue, weight gain, and depression, among others .


It's worth noting that while both Hashimoto's disease and Graves' disease are autoimmune thyroid disorders, they are quite different.


Graves' disease leads to an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism), while Hashimoto's disease typically results in an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism ). 

thyroid, hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism, Hashimoto

1.4. The Multifaceted Influence of the Thyroid


The thyroid plays a pivotal role in the regulation of numerous bodily functions.


It produces thyroid hormones, which act as messengers, communicating with various parts of the body to regulate functions such as heart rate, breathing, body temperature, and metabolism.


These hormones also influence cholesterol levels , menstrual cycles in women , and weight management .


The thyroid's function is so versatile and critical that any imbalance in the amount of thyroid hormone released into the bloodstream can significantly impact health.


This is evident in conditions like hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism. 

thyroid, hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism, Hashimoto

2. What are the signs of an over or underactive thyroid?


The thyroid, a seemingly inconspicuous butterfly-shaped gland in your neck, wields immense power over your metabolism, energy levels, and overall well-being. In this chapter, we'll explore:


  • Distinct presentations: Delving into the telltale signs of hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism, we'll differentiate between symptoms like weight changes, fatigue, and heart palpitations to aid in recognising potential imbalances.

  • Potential severity: Examining the potential consequences of both conditions, we'll explore the seriousness of untreated hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism, including their link to heart problems and coma.

  • Beyond the weight myth: Challenging common misconceptions, we'll investigate the link between thyroid hormones and weight, debunking the myth that weight changes directly indicate thyroid dysfunction.

  • Stress and its impact: We'll explore the intriguing link between stress and thyroid function, examining the scientific evidence for a potential connection between daily pressures and thyroid imbalances. 

2.1. The signs of hyperthyroidism


Hyperthyroidism, an overactive thyroid condition, is characterised by an  overproduction of thyroid  hormones.


This can lead to a rapid metabolism and a host of symptoms that may seem unrelated at first glance.


In young women, signs of hyperthyroidism often include unexplained weight loss , rapid heartbeat, increased appetite, anxiety , irritability, and menstrual changes .


Pregnant women may experience these symptoms along with others, such as nausea or vomiting more severe than typical morning sickness, and high blood pressure .


It's important to note that these symptoms can mimic those of normal pregnancy, making hyperthyroidism challenging to diagnose during this period. 

thyroid, hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism, Hashimoto

2.2. The signs of hypothyroidism


Hypothyroidism, or an underactive thyroid, is marked by an insufficient production of thyroid hormones, leading to a slowed metabolism.


For young women, signs of hypothyroidism can include  unexplained weight gain , fatigue , depression ,  sensitivity to cold , and irregular menstrual cycles.


Pregnant women may also experience these symptoms, along with others such as constipation, difficulty concentrating, and muscle cramps .



2.3. Is hyper- or hypothyroidism a serious condition?


Hypo/hyperthyroidism, if left untreated, can lead to serious health complications.


Hypothyroidism can result in heart problems, mental health issues, peripheral neuropathy, and myxedema , a severe, life-threatening condition.


Hyperthyroidism can cause heart problems, brittle bones, and thyrotoxic crisis, a sudden intensification of symptoms leading to a fever, rapid pulse, and even delirium

thyroid, hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism, Hashimoto

2.4. Can weight gain lead to hypothyroidism?


The relationship between thyroid function and weight is complex and multifaceted.


While it's well-established that t hyroid dysfunction can lead to changes in body weight and composition , recent studies suggest that weight changes can also influence thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) levels. Specifically, obesity is associated with a state of inflammation that can increase TSH secretion, leading to hyperthyrotropinemia.


This condition may revert after weight loss in children, either through bariatric surgery or a hypocaloric (low in calories) diet, indicating that the raised TSH levels are a functional consequence of obesity rather than a result of autoimmune thyroid failure.


However, it's important to note that thyroid hormones should not be used to control body weight in obese euthyroid (a thyroid gland that is functioning correctly, producing adequate amounts of thyroid hormone) subjects, as there is no established benefit and potential risks. 

2.5. Can stress trigger either one of the conditions?


A study  examined the relationship between stress, thyroid hormone levels, and surgery in 106 patients. Several factors, including thyroid hormone levels, weight, surgery extent, and pre-surgery thyroid hormone levels, were linked to a measure of thyroid function (lnTSH).


Interestingly, a measure of unconscious stress based on an interview was also significantly associated with lnTSH. Individuals classified as being at high or unconscious high risk for stress had higher lnTSH levels compared to those at low risk.


Key Points:

  • Stress, as measured by the modified SOSS questionnaire, can affect thyroid function.

  • Combining the questionnaire with thyroid hormone levels may improve detection of hidden stress.

  • This study suggests possible use of thyroid hormones as stress markers, but further research is needed.


Future studies should explore social environments and coping strategies to better understand stress and its impact on thyroid function.

thyroid, hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism, Hashimoto

3. The effects of training on an under- or overactive thyroid


The potential impact of resistance training on thyroid hormone function has generated a good amount of interest within the exercise science and health communities. However, the available research paints a more nuanced picture, rather than give a definitive answer.


Let us explore the

  • TSH variations in men following resistance training interventions and dissect any observed fluctuations in thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) levels as a potential indicator of resistance training's effect on thyroid function.

  • Potential negative associations between intense training and hormone levels : We will critically assess research investigating systemic metabolic effects in active adults.

  • Training interventions for hyperthyroidism in women : We will examine the effects of aerobic, resistance, and combined training modalities on thyroid function in females diagnosed with hyperthyroidism.

thyroid, hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism, Hashimoto

3.1. Effects of Aerobic, Resistance, and Combined Training on Thyroid Hormones


The type of exercise you engage in can have varying effects on your thyroid hormone levels.


Aerobic, resistance, and combined training all influence the production and regulation of thyroid hormones, but in different ways.


According to a study published in the National Library of Medicine , aerobic exercise can decrease TSH and increase T3 and T4 (thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3) levels, while resistance training has little to no systematically reviewed data to compare with.


Combined training, on the other hand, can lead to a decrease in TSH and an increase in T3 and T4 levels .


These findings suggest that while all forms of exercise can impact thyroid hormone levels, the nature of this impact can vary depending on the type of exercise. It's important to note that these effects are not necessarily negative or positive; they simply reflect the body's response to different types of physical stress. 

thyroid, hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism, Hashimoto

3.2. Can there be a negative association of physical activity and an under- or overactive thyroid?


Some research has highlighted the numerous benefits of physical activity for overall health and well-being. This study  aimed to delve deeper, investigating the potential impact of daily physical activity on various physiological systems beyond its known effects on physical fitness. Through an analysis of a large, representative sample of U.S. adults, it explored associations between physical activity levels and:


  • Lower inflammation and immune response: Adults with higher daily physical activity had lower levels of inflammatory markers and white blood cell counts.

  • Lower thyroid hormone levels: More active adults tended to have lower thyroid hormone levels (TSH and T4).

  • Modulated TSH response: Active adults produced less TSH in response to lower T4 levels, suggesting effects on the hypothalamic-pituitary axis.

  • Dose-dependent effects: The associations between activity and health markers strengthened with increasing activity levels.


This study provides robust evidence that physical activity has widespread effects on the body, including modulation of inflammation, immune response, and thyroid hormone function. More research is needed to understand the mechanisms involved and potential interactions with other factors, but overall it seems that there is a predominantly positive impact on physical activity on the hormone production in the body.

thyroid, hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism, Hashimoto

4. The OptimallyMe Thyroid Plus test and your hormones


Going beyond the standard thyroid assessment, the OptimallyMe Thyroid Plus Testempowers you to gain a comprehensive understanding of your thyroid function.


This advanced test not only measures the crucial trio of T4, FT3, and TSH hormones, but also delves deeper by analysing TgAb and TPOAb antibodies.


These additional markers provide valuable insights into the presence of underlying autoimmune conditions that might be affecting your thyroid.


Beyond superficial screening, the Thyroid Plus Test paints a holistic picture of your thyroid health, potentially uncovering hidden factors contributing to your concerns.


This deeper understanding empowers you to make informed decisions about your health and, in collaboration with your healthcare provider, develop a personalised approach to optimise your well-being.


Take control of your health and unlock the secrets of your thyroid with the OptimallyMe Thyroid Plus Test

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