How to Exercise For Your Thyroid Gland

Thyroid Stimulating Exercises That Work For Your Thyroid Gland

Is it possible to stimulate your thyroid with certain exercises?

Are some exercises better than others for your thyroid?

The short answer is yes, exercising can absolutely improve your thyroid function. 

In fact, several recent studies have shown that exercising can both reduce your TSH and increase free thyroid hormone levels. 

This is great news if you are trying to treat your thyroid naturally!

Let’s go into more detail about how exercise can help you, which exercises are the best, how much is too much exercise, and other tips to help improve your metabolism

Can Exercise Benefit your Thyroid?

You probably already know that exercise is a good thing for your body. 

I shouldn’t have to convince you of that. 

We know, from many studies, that exercise can reduce your risk of all-cause mortality, improve heart function, help with weight loss, and so on and so on. 

But, in addition to all of these benefits, we can also add boosting thyroid function to the list! (1)

Certain exercises, based on your heart rate, have been shown to improve thyroid function. 

And this is true whether you are taking thyroid medication or if you are just healthy. 

Exercising, for both groups, can improve your thyroid. 

How does it work?

We don’t know all of the details yet, but exercise helps in at least 3 important ways.


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3 Benefits of Exercising for your Thyroid

#1. Increase Free Thyroid Hormone Concentration

This is probably the single most important reason to exercise if you have hypothyroidism or any other thyroid-related issue. 

Studies have shown that hypothyroid patients, already taking thyroid medication, who exercise 1 hour per day experience both a reduction in their TSH and an increase in their T4 and T3 levels (2). 

This is without changing their medication!

This might be confusing, but let me break it down for you. 

The reduction in TSH indicates that the body is able to produce its own thyroid hormone more naturally. 

So what happens is your TSH drops as more thyroid hormone is being produced. 

This is reflected in an increase in T4 and T3 levels in the bloodstream as well. 

So, what exactly is exercise doing for your thyroid?

It’s helping your thyroid to produce more thyroid hormone on its own! In effect, it’s naturally healing your thyroid function and this is a great thing. 

#2. Reduce Inflammation

Another reason to exercise is because of its effects on inflammation (3). 

Even though inflammation is really a non-specific entity, reducing it is still valuable if you have thyroid disease. 

This is because many people with hypothyroidism suffer from an autoimmune condition called Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. 

Those with Hashimoto’s have a disordered immune function which causes their own body to attack their thyroid gland resulting in its destruction. 

Anything which helps reduce inflammation and immune function can potentially reduce this attack. 

But beyond this, it’s also important to manage inflammation because inflammation can potentially reduce peripheral T4 to T3 conversion. 

T4 to T3 conversion is the process by which your body activates and turns regular thyroid hormone into its active form. 

Inflammation can block or prevent this from occurring. 

By exercising you are effectively removing roadblocks to conversion while also potentially reducing immune attacks on your thyroid gland. 

#3. Improve Metabolism

Lastly, exercise (the right kind) can potentially improve your metabolism. 

Your metabolism is roughly defined as the number of calories it takes to keep your body functioning on a day-to-day basis. 

And your metabolism is controlled (or at least highly regulated) by your thyroid gland.

It is estimated that thyroid hormone controls up to 60% of your metabolism and daily caloric burn (4). 

And what happens if you have thyroid disease?

Hypothyroidism (a reduction in thyroid hormone) tends to reduce your metabolism which often leads to weight gain. 

You can fight and prevent this weight gain by attempting to balance out your metabolism with exercise. 

Only exercises which help build up muscle mass will improve your metabolism, though, so keep that in mind. 

Any thyroid patient who struggles with weight gain or has a slower-than-normal metabolism will want to improve their metabolism. 

Which Exercises are Best?

Hopefully, you’re ready to start exercising after reading about all of these benefits!

But you probably have some questions…

Which exercise should I start with? 

How often should I be exercising?

Are some exercises better than others?

These are normal questions that almost all patients have so let’s take a second and answer them. 

Below you will find my recommendations on how to exercise, how frequently you should be exercising, and the benefits of certain exercises over others:

  • Weekly strength training – Strength training is one of the best exercises you can do for your thyroid because it helps to build muscle mass which can improve your metabolism. Always incorporate some kind of strength training into your regimen. No more than 1-3 times per week, however. 
  • Weekly yoga – Yoga is a great way to exercise, improve your flexibility, and reduce your stress. Yoga can enhance your breathing, improve your cortisol and keep you active (5). 
  • Daily walking – No matter what types of exercises you choose to do throughout the week you should always supplement these with daily low-intensity activity. This could include walking, doing normal chores throughout the house, swimming, going for a light jog, etc. Pretty much anything that keeps you active throughout the day should be a priority. This should be IN ADDITION to whatever higher-intensity exercises you choose to do throughout the week. 
  • Periodic/episodic high-intensity interval training – Lastly, you’ll also want to incorporate some episodes of high-intensity interval training. This includes exercises that get your heart rate up to 70% of normal (6), require a lot of energy expenditure, and which leave you breathless. You can get this kind of exercise with certain aerobic exercises like spin class, cycling, sprinting, etc. Don’t overdo it, however, because excessive exercise can actually drop your thyroid function (more on that below). 

Can you Exercise Too Much?

The answer is yes!

The studies I’ve referenced in this article clearly show that too much exercise, at a very high capacity, can actually start to reduce free T3 and total T3.

This effect seems to be more pronounced as you enter into very highly intensive exercises and as your heart rate reaches 90% of your healthy maximum. 

So, will you notice this effect if you are simply jogging on a treadmill or doing weight lifting? 

Probably not. 

But you may start to experience this as you ramp up the intensity of your exercises. 

Many people with thyroid disease also suffer from weight loss resistance. 

This combination leads some people to slam their heads into the wall by exercising as much as they possibly can. 

If you are one of those people who overexercise (and under eats) in an attempt to control your weight then you may be doing more harm than good to your body. 


An exercise is a stressful event on your body. 

The entire goal when you exercise is to break down the muscle fibers in your body to allow your body to heal and then rebuild those muscle tissues even stronger than before. 

But what if your body is already being taxed? What if you don’t have enough energy to do normal daily tasks?

Too much exercise can put additional strain on an already taxed system and make you feel worse off. 

You’ll know if you reach this stage because, after working out, you will most likely feel more fatigued than when you started. 

This may sound counterintuitive but it’s actually a great marker to assess if you are over-exercising. 

Exercising should be a stimulating experience and one that leaves you feeling refreshed and energized. 

If you are already suffering from fatigue and exercising makes that fatigue worse then you may want to dial down how much you are exercising. 

In addition to this, high-intensity exercise can also drag down your serum cortisol (7). 

Cortisol is your stress hormone and your body releases it in response to stress. 

Not surprisingly, exercise can cause the release of cortisol!

But if you already have a baseline increased level of cortisol then adding more to the system increases your risk of weight gain and insulin resistance. 

This is how excess exercise can paradoxically make you gain weight. 

What To Do If you are Over-Exercising

The first thing you should do is cut back on how much you are exercising. 

I usually tell patients to do this by about 50% of whatever they are doing. 

Most of the patients who I recommend this to tend to freak out and believe that they are going to gain weight as a result. 

They are often surprised that they actually lose more weight by cutting back on their exercise!

You can use your energy level as a gauge of how much you should be exercising (discussed above). 

As you cut back on exercising, and as you listen to your body, you should notice your energy level improve. 

In addition to cutting back on exercise, you may also want to add an adrenal supplement to help support your cortisol. 

Adrenal supplements which contain adrenal adaptogens are ideal for this type of situation. 

Adaptogens help your body tolerate stress, help you balance cortisol levels, and naturally help improve your energy.

When I was recovering from adrenal-related issues after my residency, I used an adrenal supplement that contained both adrenal adaptogens and adrenal glandulars such as this one

You will want to try something similar if you believe you have been overexercising. 

Build More Muscle and Build your Metabolism

One of the benefits of improving your muscle mass is that it also increases your metabolism. 

Only certain exercises (such as strength training) tend to have any real impact on building your muscles. 

Exercises like yoga and low-intensity exercises can be useful for helping you to maintain your existing muscle mass, but they often are not enough to trigger the building of new muscle mass. 

If your goal is to enhance your metabolism then you want to make sure that you are BUILDING muscle. 

You can do this with strength training exercises (at least once per week) but exercising is only part of the equation. 

You also need to make sure that you are eating healthily. 

This means you need to be consuming a sufficient amount of protein while also avoiding excessive sugar. 

Consuming sugar will spike insulin and drive calories into your fat cells and not into your muscle cells where they are needed for growth. 

This is one of the main reasons that exercise should always be accompanied by healthy eating. 

But in addition to consuming healthy foods, you can also use other supplements such as protein powder. 

If you have thyroid disease then you’ll want to find a plant-based protein powder that often is better absorbed, causes fewer gastrointestinal issues, and can improve gut bacteria

I recommend plant-based protein which also includes thyroid-boosting nutrients such as this one


The bottom line?

Exercise can absolutely help improve your thyroid function by reducing your TSH and increasing both T3 and T4 levels. 

If you decide to exercise (which you should!) then you want to make sure that you are not overexercising. 

Overexercising can put additional strain on your body and on cortisol which can negatively impact your metabolism and weight. 

Follow the guidelines listed above to find an ideal amount for your body. 

Each person will need to exercise a different amount based on their goals, their baseline metabolism, and so on. 

Not I want to hear from you:

Are you going to start exercising to improve your thyroid?

Are you currently exercising to try and heal your thyroid?

Is it working for you?

Why or why not?

Leave your comments or questions below! 







at home thyroid boosting exercises

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About Dr. Westin Childs

Hey! I'm Westin Childs D.O. (former Osteopathic Physician). I don't practice medicine anymore and instead specialize in helping people like YOU who have thyroid problems, hormone imbalances, and weight loss resistance. I love to write and share what I've learned over the years. I also happen to formulate the best supplements on the market (well, at least in my opinion!) and I'm proud to say that over 80,000+ people have used them over the last 7 years. You can read more about my own personal health journey and why I am so passionate about what I do.

P.S. Here are 4 ways you can get more help right now:

#1. Get my free thyroid downloads, resources, and PDFs here.

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28 thoughts on “Thyroid Stimulating Exercises That Work For Your Thyroid Gland”

  1. Hey dr. Childs, I wanted to ask something, I read somewhere that when you’re on Levothyroxine, your TSH should be below 1 or otherwise you need to increase your dosage, is there any truth to this? I’ve been on Levo for 2 years now, and the lowest my TSH has been is 1.5 (it used to be 16).

    My T4 is 18, but even after two years of medication I still feel fatique and great muscle weakness which makes exercising quite hard for me, so I’m not sure what to do now.

    • Hi Sara,

      There is some truth to that statement but each person is different and the TSH that they feel good at is different than the next person and so on. So it’s certainly not a universal truth or anything like that.

  2. Dr. Childs, thank you for your email and interesting articles. I’ve pretty much tried everything for my hypothyroidism, Hashimoto’s – I exercise a ton, then reduced the long 1-1/2 hour sessions with 20 mins. high intensity – but recently the 20 min. high intensity just about kills me – I’m nearly passed out from it. No energy whatsoever. I swim every day for about an hour – so I’m doing exercises in the pool with weights, but they are not high intensity – as I’m not breathing really hard. I still cannot lose weight and have a lot of inflammation and follow a low inflammation diet, ascribe to Dr. Gundry’s diet. I take T4 100 mcg and T3 20mcg – and lots of supplements, Fish Oil, Selenium, B12, Bcomplex, etc., etc., Appreciate any advice on what to do with exercising at this point?

  3. Dr. Childs,
    You mentioned that consuming sugar will spike insulin and drive calories into your fat cells. I had to quit eating gluten over four years ago then in January of this year I quit eating sugar. I do use the sugar substitute Sweet and Low to sweeten my tea and coffee. Would consuming this sugar substitute be as bad as for my thyroid as eating sugar? I’ve tried all the others and they cause tummy problems for me. I have been on thyroid medicine for four years and I take 1mg of Levothyroxine daily. I have tried all the natural thyroid medications and Tirosint-Sol but they made my tummy upset as well.

    • Hi Lynn,

      In my opinion, sugar substitutes cause a similar reaction to sugar but through a different mechanism. This topic is highly debated, though, so you will see mixed opinions.

  4. Hi Dr. Childs,
    I found your article very interesting and informative. I’m hypothyroid and don’t know if it’s Hasimotos or not. I’ve been on synthroid for 22 years 1.25mg. I am arthritic in the knees, and over 60 years old so high intensity exercise seems out of the question. Walking is my exercise. Are you familiar with vitamin D deficiency and hypothyroidism? My TSH is reading @ 1. I’m still suffering weight gain and inflammation.

  5. Hi Dr Child’s
    I take levothyroxine.. my Dr has me on 88 mcg
    M-F and 100 Mcg S-S
    I do exercise I am currently doing the Leslie Sansone walking videos..and occasionally do pilates. I am struggling with a extra 13 pds which will not budge. I eat healthy and drink water.. should I ask my doctor to switch me to synthyroid?

  6. Hi Dr. Child’s
    I have been dealing with hypothyroidism since 2013. I am on synthroid right now I’m on 75mcg. My dosage doesn’t seem to be constant ever. I get a new doctor and explain that I’m fatigued and tired all the time ,hair loss, etc. They tend to lower my dose initially and then slowly increase it because my numbers are in range but still on the lower end of being in range. I would like to try a different medication but nobody seems willing to change from synthroid. Is there any reason why? I am going to start exercising and going gluten free again, hopefully that helps.

  7. Hi Dr. Childs

    How will something like this work for someone who has had a total thyroidectomy? I struggle daily with fatigue often falling asleep at the worst times. I never feel like have energy to work out, I do love HIIT but can’t motivate myself to actually get started. I try to eat healthy but then I purge and hate myself afterwards.

    I have found a lot of information about controlling hypothyroidism naturally but nothing about if you don’t have a thyroid at all. If I followed a plan Like yours what would I have to do different?

    • Hi Jennifer,

      Many of the same therapies that work for those with low thyroid work for those without a thyroid. Instead of supporting thyroid hormone creation, though, they support thyroid function which still matters for those without a thyroid. I also have specific information for those without a thyroid on this blog and in videos 🙂

  8. Hi Dr. Childs,

    I feel like during quarantine I have gained weight like 10 pounds. I have Hashimoto’s Disease. I have been exercising everyday I was running and doing HIIT and eating gluten free for years now. I watch my calorie intake and I am very careful about what I eat, I am not really sure what else I can do to loose weight. My thyroid labs a month ago were TSH 4.5 and now they are .53. I was on 88 mcg and now I am on 112 mcg. I recently stopped running and HITT because it was too taxing on my body. HELP!

  9. Hi Dr Childs, I know you said exercising too much isn’t good for your thyroid, does that apply to too much weight lifting as well, or just exercises that increase heart rate?

    • Hi Aubrey,

      It’s more about the stress that whatever exercise you are doing has on your body. If the stress exerted exceeds what your body can tolerate then you are doing more harm than good. This applies to all types of exercises.

  10. Good morning Dr Childs I was woundering don you think over exercising can cause hypothyroidism/hashimotos? And what home exercises do u recommend for hashimotos pts who are trying to loose weight without over doing it are there any YouTube exercises that are good go to or beach body workouts? I know you said strength training was best but for those who are new to it where could one start out?

  11. I have hypothyroidism and my doses was adjusted from 62mg of thyroxin to 75mg, however, the doctor told me that in order not to change the brand I could take 62×2 three times a week and only 62mg on other days. How long can I maintain this situation of taking 2 pills? Is there any risk of taking 2 pills on day yes and one day not? Thank you so much in advanced for your answer

    • Hi Monica,

      There are all sorts of different ways and methods to take thyroid medication and there’s no best way, it’s more about what works for your body. Plenty of people take thyroid medications every other day or take smaller doses on the weekends, or take multiple doses per day, etc. It’s more about whether or not it helps you feel better and how it impacts thyroid function.

  12. Good morning Dr Childs, Your blog and articles are always the best!
    I wanted to ask you for advice, I take four doses of T3 a day for a total of 25mcg, my baseline temperature settled around 36.4°/36.5° Celsius (97,5/97,7F), I noticed that the day after strength training with weights (3 days a week), my temperature drops to 36.2°C – 97.1°F. I understand that during and after exercise the body needs much more T3 to sustain exercise and to recover. Would it be wise to increase the dose of T3 on training days? If yes, at what time? The dose I take after training or the one before? Thanks for your valuable advice!

  13. In looking through these I have not seen anything about exercise with hyperthyroidism. I am on methimaxole, have been for over two years and haven’t found that sweet spot in dosage to keep me normal. I exercise three times a week for cardio as I had a heart attack five years ago. When my thyroid is high, I get to cardio zone pretty easily. When it’s low it’s harder to reach cardio
    This iis monitored by fitbit.
    Any suggestions about exercise and hyperthyroidism?

    • Hi Judith,

      I’ll make a note to create an article/video on the topic of exercise for hyperthyroid patients.

  14. This article is horribly vague. Exercise every way, don’t over exercise, take your supplements I sell but I won’t tell you when or how much. Dangerous practice this is.

  15. I have a question in relation to this. So, due to joint issues admitted I do not workout like I need. Kind of a double edge sword it would help if I did, but need to be able to move to workout.

    That being said when I was working out 5 days a week, for several years even 15 mins of yoga (the floor exercises really bother my messed up back right now), low impact aerobic the other two days, (dance) after all the time put me in bed the rest of the day. Was working out that much and on a gluten free, dairy free, and sugar free diet and gained 77 lbs.

    So, what would your suggestion be for a balance and can you build stamina on like 5 or 10 mins. I have yet to find anyone that understands thyroid and exercise, all suggestions are to workout 4-6 hours a day if you have thyroid. Yeah, I do good to hold out 15-20 mins after 2-3 years of working out.

    Thanks. Wish more people were better educated to help people with thyroid disease.


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