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Exercise effects on the thyroid question - James - 07-10-2012 06:14 AM

Is it true that excess exercise can :

suppress thyroid

raise hormones that can make you overweight

put extra stress on the liver (via detox reqd to detox exercise by products)


or is it a load of baloney?

The part about thyroid suppression is true. But it is not as bad as it sounds. This is referred to as exercise induced hypothyroidism and is seen primarily in extreme athletes. This is not dangerous though, it is a protective mechanism. When we exercise heavily our pulse rate, blood pressure and temperature all go way up, which can be dangerous if not controlled. When the body is repeatedly exposed to these extremes it slows the thyroid down slowing the pulse, lowering the blood pressure and reducing the body temperature. This way when someone tries to let's say run a marathon they will not end up with something like a stroke. This is why extreme athletes have the very slow pulse rates, low blood pressure and abnormally low body temperature.

For example, back when I used to race triathlons and do cross country bicycling I had a resting pulse of 40 and a blood pressure averaging around 92/70. What really freaked people out more than anything though was my abnormally low body temperature. I first found this out after riding my bicycle down to United Blood Services to donate blood. When they took my temperature it was only 95F. So they rechecked it and it was still at 95F. I think they thought I was a zombie.Big Grin Since I was working at the hospital at the time I started monitoring my body temperature when I was working. My temperature was averaging 94.2F. The only time I would reach "normal" at 98.6F was when I was sick and running a fever. But my exercise routine was very extreme back in those days.

And I definitely did not put on weight despite eating around 10,000 calories a day primarily in carbohydrates such as pasta, rice and potatoes. I am 6' 2" and only weighed 150 pounds, with extremely little body fat. So the claims about exercise causing weight gain can pretty much be thrown out the window. I have heard these claims in the past, but they are misleading. There are so many factors involved in weight gain. It cannot be simply blamed on one thing such as diet, exercise or lack thereof, hypothyroidism, etc. As far as hormones that can cause weight gain these would be insulin and cortisol. But exercise suppresses insulin release and exercise can help lower cortisol, particularly if done on a regular basis.

The only bit of truth about exercise raising hormones that can cause weight gain would be if the person too much for their athletic level. In this case the excess exercise wold create pain, which would raise cortisol levels. If their body has not built enough muscle to burn fat efficiently then fat may accumulate faster than it can be burnt off.

As far as the stress of the liver this is also somewhat true. Excessive exercise can lead to more build up of waste products such as the debris from red blood cells that can be ruptured. This is not the full story though. We also have to keep in mind that there is also more blood and lymph being moved leading to more toxin removal. Sweating further reduces the toxic load on the body. Therefore, to claim an increased load of toxins is very misleading.