Thyroid UK

Keep on running (or not)

Before you click to another page, I tell you my story not as a pointy finger, “see it can happen” narrative but to illustrate how this thyroid malarkey has unexpected surprises. My motive for writing is to see how many others of you share my experiences.

How many times a week do you exercise? None, three, six? How long for? High impact, low impact?

For many thyroid people, you’re exhausted anyway and the last thing you’re able to do is go bouncing off for a run. Believe me, I’ve worn the wrinkled t-shirt on that matter. (Wrinkled from curling up in bed that is.)

My relationship with exercise has been odd. There is a distinct difference between pre-knowing-there-was-anything-wrong-and-getting-treatment and post diagnosis.

At school, I enjoyed sports, sprinting, trampolining, hockey, rounders, netball, football, anything really. After school sports club, I’d be there. I’d be tired but got over it.

I started working, in due course joined a gym like a good girl. I pushed myself even when tired and the result? I was even more tired, got bored as I wasn’t progressing, so gave that up and went back to walking everywhere possible.

Once treatment started my muscles ached. Not just twinges, full on aching, the kind I only remember on the odd occasion I’ve had a virus such as the flu. It hurt to move, my limbs were heavy, hot baths, endless walking, nothing made any difference.

It got me thinking, what could I do? I think my logic was, “I need a sport that exercises all the muscles. That’ll be belly dancing or swimming”. Swimming was simply more accessible.

It wasn’t an easy thing getting back in the pool. I hadn’t been in the pool for 16yrs. Just one length left me breathless but it felt good, though my technique had disappeared. The muscles soon ceased aching over the weeks. Relief!

I’m now in the pool up to four times a week clocking up kilometres. I’ve been sensible with it. I had local authority lessons to re-learn the forgotten techniques and later found a company who apply the Alexander Technique to swimming and now, it’s oh, so simple now and less chance of injury.

I have to mention there are times when I don’t have the energy. That’s fine, my hair can do with a break from the chlorine after all but I’m soon back in there, focussing on my technique, tilting my head oh so slightly upwards, pulling differently there, all to gain speed with the minimum energy expended.

Who would have thought that a condition that robs me of energy would throw me into a focused exercise routine? It’s become the centre of my life, everyone knows how much swimming means to me.

The swimming has also won me a great deal of respect from my Endo. I suspect it demonstrates I’m prepared to try things to improve my situation. It’s good he recognises that and I’m grateful. Sadly, not all doctors would.

Your turn! What surprises has your thyroid brought about? How do you cope with exercise? What difficulties do you face in exercising? What has or hasn’t worked for you?

Don’t be shy, please do leave a comment. I’d really, really like to know what you think. You’re the only people who understand!

7 Replies

Hi There. My only problem in replying to this is that I have got M.E. and not a thyroid problem (I have an interest in thyroid problems through trying to get help for others with the condition). Just thought I would add my little bit on exercise. I was playing tennis 4 or 5 times a week when I was struck down with a virus and life changed dramatically. I think I was hooked on exercise and it was almost like a drug before I became ill. I was determined to get back on the tennis court but it was not to be. The point of me telling you this, is that I did try hydrotherapy at one stage and it was the one form of exercise that I could cope with. Unfortunately I can't afford it now as it was expensive (I live in Guernsey with no NHS) and I do remember suggesting it to other ME sufferers and they did not necessarily have the same benefits that I had


I first noticed something was wrong when doing my usual yoga exercises. Instead of feeling invigorated I began to feel really exhaused with no stamina. This became more and more pronounced over the last year. Eventually I began to have to go to bed if I took any exercise at all. Now the slightest exertion such as gentle walking or even light cleaning make me shake all over. My back is getting really twisted from being in bed. Today in an attempt to alleviate my back I tried what I call my 'old people's' yoga basically some simple lying down postures. Even they made me shake. I have spent most of today deeply asleep. I feel like I would drown if I even tried to swim I am so exhausted and weak. I was only diagnosed two weeks ago with under active thyroid. So maybe once I get on the right treatment I will be able to exercise again, I hope so as it is so good for one's sense of well being.


Swimming has been hard on me but its the one exercise I feel at this stage (9 months having Hypo) I can do. I still feel exhausted after every session at the pool but feel no strain in the water. Great post.


I recently started treatment for hypo.

I have to walk my dog every day, she keeps me going in that way. I have various routes depending on energy; the shortest one takes about 20 mins and the longest about an hour at a decent pace. Or I go over the field and throw the ball for her, so she gets a good run about.

I have always loved walking and visit a friend every few months to go walking in the hills - this is despite energy sapping very therapeutic mentally and the tiredness I get is worth it.

Swimming was something I had done a lot of as a kid and I did wonder recently whether I should visit the pool a couple of times a week before work - you got me thinking Oneinthe hand!



I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism 5 weeks ago, i have got osteoarthritis of the knees for which i have had 2 unicompartmentle joint replacements (half knees) and so i struggle to exercise BUT i am determined to keep trying


good luck to you, i go the gym three times a week where i give myself a good work out. cardio-vascular , core work and weights . swimming i also enjoy and try and have a good one at least once a week. i have gone from being overactive to underactive and currently take levo-thyroxine daily. my weight gain was pretty dramatic going from under ten stone to well over eleven stone in a very short time. currently trying really hard to lose soem weight. but is seems very difficult. my levels are ok so do not need to up the medication. a few years ago i had a massive weight gain due to taking tamoxifen for the treatment of breast cancer, lost the weight after the treatment had finished. so now finding this very difficult at times to deal with. seem to have aged overnight . never mind will keep going .


wow flossie well done, keep the faith and you will get there i am sure.


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