I feel at the moment that I am on the right dose of Levo and my energy level was good. Two months ago I started jogging again, I paced myself and felt I was really making progress. But over the last couple of weeks I have found it a real struggle when I run and all my joints feel stiff. I don't think I overdid it and I am not sure if this is even connected to my under active thyroid. Has anyone else had a similar experience in trying to improve their fitness?

26 Replies

I have improved my fitness over the past year, I mountain bike three times a week so a little softer on the joints but I do find it hard work and am always a little stiff but just keep on. I would say running is quite hard on the joints of anyone really well or not. I admire you I can't run lol!

I too found that even when I was on the proper dose, I couldn't seem to build up my fitness. Instead of helping me, any increase in exercise left me really tired and I felt as though I needed to have a little snooze. Unfortunately for me even just a day out leaves me exhausted. Sorry I couldn't be more positive but this has been my experience. I hope however that you will manage to get fitter as it does make things easier when you can move freely. Dee

Historygirl, if you've been inactive for a long while you may have overdone it. It can take a long while to rebuild fitness and needs to be done gradually.

Ask GP for ferritin, vitamin D, B12 and folate to be tested. Low levels/deficiency are common in thyroid patients and can cause musculoskeletal pain and fatigue similar to hypothyroid symptoms.

Thank you, I am seeing my doctor next week and will discuss my recent blood tests. it is quite amazing how many areas of the body are impacted.

Hi HistoryGirl, I have a similar experience to yours after starting the gym earlier this year. I had an exercise plan drawn up by a personal trainer and was recommended to go 2/3 a week. First 3 weeks felt great going 3 times a week. The 4th week I started to struggle with energy levels and felt so worn out that it was difficult to even go. I went to two further sessions but had to do less than my exercise plan due to fatigue. My body just couldn't do it. I was so physically and mentally drained that I stopped going.

I'm not sure if I over did it or what but it was like I had used every energy cell in my body. It has taken weeks and weeks to try and rebuild my energy which I've had to prioritise in using just to do light household chores.

It would be helpful to know how other Hashi folk manage a regular exercise routine as I wasn't able to do it.

As Greygoose would tell you - you are using your stores of T3 when exercising. This can leave you feeling depleted until they rebuild. A gentler approach may be more suitable - yoga anybody ? :-)

Marz, when I was well I used to do a fair bit of yoga and pilates. I'd love to get back to some, particularly to keep some of my flexibility, reduce my joint pain and help me sleep.

But I'm afraid of overdoing it - I used to do quite difficult pilates and it's hard to go back to a very easy routine (or know how easy is easy enough).

Do you have any advice for getting back to yoga while still ill?

Oh dear not sure how to advise. As you know with yoga it is always good to listen to your body....

....Listen to your body - Handle it with care - Step inside it with your mind - Then you're almost there.

I was back on the mat within 3 months of my TFL op and the spinal surgery - both done in 2007. I didn't do a great deal - just followed my breath - cried - relaxed and rolled around occasionally :-) It was not long before I was able to progress. Am convinced I recovered from the spinal op well as I was already practising before the op so was not afraid to push my body gently. Understanding how it all works is key isn't it ? I had great confidence in the old bod !

Just lying on the floor and let your body and mind take you on a journey - starting with baby rolls - and off you go. I personally feel Yoga is more gentle than Pilates. Depending on your approach of course !

Golly we have guests arriving - must dash :-)

Thanks, Marz, that is all food for thought! I like the idea of spending some time on the mat and seeing how it goes.

When I first got ill I was angry with myself for not having done more yoga immediately prior to my TT, as my back felt very crumpled and weak. As time went on I became grateful for what I had done :)

.....just be gentle with yourself and not expect too much. In class I often mention that meeting challenges on the mat prepares us for the challenges in life. We take a deep breath and focus when trying to go deeper into an asana. We also need to celebrate the small steps we make on the mat - again as in life :-)

Did I imagine it or did someone a while ago suggest adding a little T3 on days when you're doing strenuous exercise? Of course, this opens the can of worms which is getting a doctor to prescribe some T3 without having the vapours, or acquiring some privately and working out how much 'a little' to aid exercising is.

That there is a problem when you exercise indicates to me that you maybe aren't getting enough through your meds. Either your Levo dose isn't high enough, or you're not converting optimally the T4 (which is Levo) into the T3 which is what your body needs.

I was diagnosed with severe hypothyroidism (Hashimoto's) in 2005 and Thyroid Eye Disease and take levothyroxine. I've been a runner for 18 years and ran the London marathon in 2005 with symptoms of hypothyroidism before I was diagnosed. After the marathon, my training eased off and I had no energy & was constantly fatigued amongst other things. I put on over 1.5 stone in weight but I thought this was just down to running less after the marathon. The endocrinologist was surprised I was able to get out of bed every day and said it was only my fitness that had kept me going! I kept running but it took me several years before I got to my optimal dosage on thyroxine and felt 'right' again and every so often still felt tired. This year I decided to take liquid iron when a blood test revealed my ferritin levels were relatively low and I have felt much better for it since.

The research does seem to indicate that people with hypothyroidism are more prone to overtraining. This paper is interesting:

My condition is well managed but I still have to listen to my body for symptoms of fatigue and other signs. I now run ultra marathons and have completed a number this year up to 70miles in distance plus numerous shorter/faster races too! is possible! Good luck :)

Claire that is so inspiring.thank you so much. The problem is that most fitness experts don't understand these symptoms and the doctor just tells you to stop running! I would love to find someone who specialised in exercise plans to get you thru these hurdles.


If it's not not to much trouble, do you have any more specific advice for us? Did you get to the kind of wall people in the the thread are talking about and what did you do to get past it? Or did you avoid it, and if so what was your approach?

Thanks so much. It's really good to hear it's possible to regain so much fitness.

Hi, sorry I've not responded sooner but I've been away for a few days. If you have been having problems with training, listen to your body and try not to do too much, too fast. Build up steady.

On longer runs, I have to take something to eat with me as the research indicates that with hypothyroidism, we're more prone to hypoglycaemia too. I did a fell race last Wednesday evening after only having a light lunch and felt terrible with no energy. If I'm running in the evening, I find I'm better off having a larger lunch then a lighter evening meal.

Running on roads and hard surfaces is tougher on the legs so I generally concentrate on trail and fell running now as this is less harsh on the legs and is good for strengthening the ankles with the uneven surface plus it's much more fun too!

To ensure I don't overdo it too much, I also have a 3 week cyclical training plan, whereby I train 'harder' for 3 weeks followed by 1 week 'easy'.

Best wishes

I have started to run again and resting over the last couple of weeks has helped a lot. I am doing my first Parkrun in the morning and really looking forward to it. We live in a forest and so there are trails in every direction from the farm. It is lovely but I spend too much time looking down at the ground in case I trip :-)) Thank you for the advice I will take it on board.

With hypothyroid the entire lactic acid system in the muscles is affected and levothyroxine does not resolve the issue wheras much more complete replacement of NDT does heal the damaged tissues

Is NDT the same as taking T4 and T3 (levothyroxine and liothyronine combination)?

I too have difficulty keeping a regular exercise regime going. I try to keep to soft grass and fields as I've always had problems with my joints. I've never been massively motivated to run, but when I actually get out there I love it (as does my dog). I tend to use my energy to the limit when I feel good as I don't know when I'll have energy again, but that probably depletes me even more.....

NDT = NATURAL DESSICATED THYROID= pigs thyroid which contains T1 T2 T3 T4 and calcitonin hence it is natural and complete unlike synthetic T4 and T3 which does not do the job for many people especially those who have had RAI or surgery on their thyroid

Interesting to hear people say they've done done well for a few weeks on an exercise programme and only then started to falter. This has been my experience with any kind of activity while I've been ill. It makes me scared to start anything, because weeks or even months of it seeming fine doesn't mean that it won't all blow up at some point and take weeks/months to recover.

I Agree that's why I was so inspired by Claire's story. I used to run years ago before I was diagnosed and it was a real slog at times but when I started again recently I was flying for the first few weeks. But then without warning my legs were like lead and everything hurt, it is really depressing. I walk every day for at least an hour without problems because we have dogs and horses, so my basic fitness is not bad.

Hi, Yep, I was diagnosed with an underactive thyroid about 4 and half years ago when I found there was nothing in the tank after 5 min of gentle jogging, put on 75mcg Levo then upped to 100mcg. Was well for about 18 months, could do a good 50min run without too much of a problem. Than put on Statins which was the worst thing ever and absolutely crippled me and took myself off them after about 1 year.

Things picked up again quickly and I soon regained my energy and strength, back to the gym 5-6 times a week, spin and circuit training plus some weights. A couple of months later I noted some hip pain when on the treadmill then muscle ache in the rear of the thighs, then general loss of stamina until I had to give up the classes, also suffering from lack of VitD, dizzyspells, weight gain and constipation, not to mention other stuff. Seen several doctors at my GP practice and they treat all my ailments individually and not as a symptom of my thyroid.

I'm getting a private blood test next Monday to test my T3 and Peroxidase Antibodies. I'm preempting a low T3, due to whatever reason and ordered some Armour 1 grain to kick off with. I'm praying this is going to be the answer to my problems. What I have learnt from this process is that you will get little help from your GP or NHS unless you are very lucky.

Good luck with your symptoms though.

I struggle to have enough energy for exercise at the moment but I am just transitioning from Levo to Armour so I'm expecting it to take a while to adjust.

When I was feeling well on Levo I often had post exercise fatigue that was excessive and out of proportion to the energy I had expended. I found research that said if you are low in iron it can cause post exercise fatigue. This is because of the extra oxygen utilised during exercise. Iron is needed by the body and if stores are low it uses what it needs and then leaves us feeling drained until they build up again. I started taking over the counter standard iron tablets and bingo...I was fine to exercise again!

It's very frustrating when you are doing all you can to be well and face a wall of fatigue after a little exercise. It's comforting to know it's 'not just me' when reading this thread.

At least we are all here for each other :)

Hi Hellsy, I would be interested to hear how you get on with Amour and has your Dr prescribed it or are you ordering it abroad. In one of the earlier posts Claire recommended some liquid iron Floravital which is easier on the system so I am going to give that a go.

It's great to get such support from everyone on this site.

Hi Historygirl, I have been prescribed by my GP after seeing an Endo. The Endo was very pro synthetic meds and reluctant to recommend Armour. He wasn't supporting me in increasing it as recommended by thyroid experts and was obviously not committed to it working. I saw a Locum GP and he agreed to increase my dose and I'm hoping my GP will continue monitoring me when I see him again to follow up my change from Levo to Armour.

Re iron yes people often say the liquid is better but I have always got on fine with Boots Iron Tabs. I did buy some liquid iron recently but it's supposed to be taken half an hour before food which I found a pain so am back on the Boots Tabs :)

The change to Armour isn't straightforward and has been one step forward, two steps back. I am confident I'm getting there though and am committed to giving it a good six to eight months (as recommended by Paul Robinson and others). I found Paul Robinson's book 'Recovering with T3' fantastic. I felt very confident about what route I wanted to take after reading his book. Stop The Thyroid Madness is excellent too (they have a good website as well as two books).

I will check it out. Many thanks

You may also like...