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Exercising With An Underactive Thyroid - 6 Pieces Of Advice!

Updated: Dec 19, 2022

A Runner walking up steps

You don’t need me to tell you, exercise is good for us! However, what I can tell you is that when you have a thyroid problem or specifically an underactive thyroid, exercise can be the last thing you feel like doing - you might barely have enough energy to get out of bed and face the day, let alone hit the gym.

When it comes to exercising, we need energy and the motivation to do it, and when faced with extreme fatigue, aches and pains as well as low mood, exercise is often just not appealing.

If you feel like this, here are six few tips to help you make a start:

Be kind to yourself

When it comes to exercise and underactive thyroid, I think it’s important to not put too much pressure on yourself to be exercising in a certain way - for example, HIIT or intense workouts. The best thing is to focus on yourself and your own journey and capabilities.

From my own experience, I know there are certain exercises that nurture me and I know when to back off strenuous exercise. We have to accept that every day will not look the same (which is true also for those who don’t have a thyroid condition!).

Start small and tread gently

Haven’t exercised for a while? Try a 15 minute walk around the block and see how you feel, and build up from there to two walks a day and go for longer, if you feel up to it

Do more of what you enjoy

What do you like doing? Do you like going for walks but dread the idea of jogging? Then stick with walking. It’s gentler on the body and joints, yet it still gives you a chance to move your body and it has numerous health benefits.

Focus on movement, rather than “exercise”

This can mean things like walking up the stairs instead of taking the lift, or getting off the bus a stop earlier, or even just doing things like cleaning around the house. It’s been shown that one bout of exercise doesn’t “un-do” a day of inactivity/being sedentary, the biggest benefits actually come from simply getting up and moving regularly.

Keep it low-intensity

Feel terrible after high intensity exercise? If your thyroid isn’t well managed there is a chance that intense exercise will make you feel even worse. Stay clear of things like HIIT and only attempt them if your thyroid condition is well-managed. Don't ever force your body to do things if you don't feel well.

Person stretching on yoga mat

Give yoga or pilates a try

This is low impact, therefore if you do struggle with joint aches and pains, it won’t aggravate them. In addition, there are calming benefits associated with yoga, so you might find that it helps you to manage stress, and it might also lift your mood.

In summary:

Don’t push yourself to do high intensity exercise, in fact it might make you feel worse. Try and incorporate more movement throughout your day and opt for low impact activities and workouts, and of course, pick something you enjoy - that way you will stick to it in the longer term. Lastly, don’t be hard on yourself if you’re feeling knackered and don’t want to exercise - opt for something like yoga instead or a little walk around the block.

If you need more guidance about coping with an underactive thyroid, then reach out to me and book your free 30-minute Health & Energy Review:

Amy Cottrell

Registered Nutritional Therapist


Amy Cottrell Nutrition does not claim to prevent, treat or cure any physical, mental or emotional conditions. These blog articles are written for educational & informational purposes only and are not a subsitute for medical advice.

Do not stop or start taking medication or supplements without first talking to your primary health care provider.

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