A fundamental gland of the endocrine system is the thyroid gland, which is responsible for the production of thyroid hormones. When this production is altered, there is usually a thyroid disease present. The two forms of thyroid dysfunction are hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism, two conditions that determine imbalances throughout the body with consequences that also affect physical activity. Controlling hypo- and hyperthyroidism, however, makes it possible to resolve these imbalances and allows the individual to lead an active lifestyle, as Professor Andrea Lania, professor of Endocrinology at Humanitas University and head of the Operating Unit of Endocrinology at Humanitas explains.
Less or more thyroid hormones
When thyroid hormone production is insufficient, it is referred to as hypothyroidism. This condition is linked to a slowdown in metabolic processes in which the thyroid function is involved. Symptoms typical of this condition include constipation, weakness and muscle cramps, fatigue, drowsiness, and slowed heart rate.
On the contrary, with hyperthyroidism hormonal production has increased, the level of circulating thyroid hormones is higher and the metabolic processes controlled by the thyroid gland are accelerated. In this case, the individual, often of female sex because hyperthyroidism is more common in women than in men, can experience excessive sweating, alteration of heart rate with palpitations, weight loss as well as fatigue and sleep disorders.
Only if hypo- and hyperthyroidism have not been diagnosed regular physical activity could have an impact on symptoms: “The effects of thyroid hormones on cardiovascular and muscular levels are known – Professor Lania recalls. It is therefore evident that the symptoms associated with hypo- and hyperthyroid conditions are often such that impose difficulties in performing regular physical activity.
In the case of hyperthyroidism – continues the specialist – tachycardia and rapid muscle exhaustion do not allow important physical efforts such as those related to aerobic and anaerobic physical activity, even with small intensity. In the case of established hypothyroidism, fatigue and muscle pain are a kind of deterrent to physical activity.
Treatment and active life
Alteration of thyroid function can be corrected with the most appropriate treatment. In the case of hypothyroidism, therapy involves the administration of the thyroid hormone L-tiroxine; while hyperthyroidism will be treated based on the causes of this dysfunction, as well as on the condition of the individual patient. By controlling thyroid dysfunction with pharmacological therapy, physical activity will have no negative side effects and can be carried out without concern: “The normalization of thyroid function neutralizes the negative consequences of excess or dysfunctional thyroid hormone secretion. Under treatment – explains the expert – there is no contraindication to the continuation of physical activity that in turn has a positive impact on the psycho-physical state of the patient “.
Physical activity, a fundamental pillar of a healthy lifestyle, can be carried out in the same way as for the general population to enjoy the benefits that movement has on everyone’s well-being: “Once thyroid dysfunction has been adequately controlled, the extent of physical activity must be correlated to the state of form, age and general condition of the patient. Without the presence of a correctly controlled thyroid dysfunction there is a limit or contraindication to physical activity,” Professor Lania concludes.