By Josh Redd, DC on March 21, 2018
Aging causes muscles to stiffen, including the heart muscles. But there is something you can do — a new study showed middle aged adults who began a moderate- to high-intensity exercise program developed the heart flexibility of someone 15 to 20 years younger. High intensity interval training can also help you better manage autoimmune diseases such as Hashimoto's low thyroid.
However, don't wait too long to get started. Studies on 70-year-olds did not produce the same results when they began an exercise program.
A sedentary lifestyle and aging causes the heart to stiffen, atrophy, and become less efficient at pumping blood and oxygenating the body. This causes shortness of breath, fatigue, edema, coughing, and other heart disease symptoms.
Lack of oxygen from an inefficient heart also compromises health and promotes inflammation, which can make it harder to manage autoimmune disorders such as Hashimoto’s low thyroid.
During the two-year study, researchers tracked more than 50 healthy but sedentary volunteers ranging in age from 45 to 64. They divided participants into two groups.
The first group did non-aerobic exercise three days a week, including basic yoga, balance training, and weight training.
The second group did moderate- to high-intensity aerobic exercise four days a week.
The first group did not experience any changes in heart health or efficiency while the second group saw dramatic improvements in their heart health.
Their hearts became noticeably more flexible and could process oxygen more efficiently. One researcher said they took a 50-year-old heart and turned back the clock to a 30- or 35-year-old heart.
These subjects became stronger and fitter overall as their newly flexible hearts were able to fill and pump blood more efficiently.
If you are working to manage Hashimoto’s low thyroid, a more efficient heart can help lower inflammation and recover health as the body will receive more oxygen and nutrients through improved blood flow.
Interval training is important for a healthier heart
Interval training is short bursts of high intensity with short rests in between.
Although there are many types of high-intensity interval programs, the research subjects did a “4X4” training: four minutes at 95 percent of maximum ability followed by three minutes of active recovery, done four times.
Pushing the heart to near its maximum ability forces it to work harder and pump more blood, thus improving its flexibility.
However, the window for this effect closes if you wait too long. People in their mid-forties to early sixties still have flexible enough heart tissue to see dramatic results. Once you are older, your blood vessels may be too rigid to cause much change.
Interval training for Hashimoto’s low thyroid and brain health
People who begin interval aerobic training typically report increased well being and happiness.
More blood flow and oxygen from a healthier heart improves brain function too. Interval training also releases hormones and neurochemicals that boost brain performance, improve mood, and tame inflammation, which helps better manage Hashimoto’s low thyroid.
As an example, endorphins released during interval training not only make people you happier, they also dampen inflammation.
High-intensity interval training also increases brain-derived neurotropic factor (BDNF), a brain chemical necessary for memory, learning, and recall.
Sedentary people may feel intimidated by the idea of high-intensity workouts. Don't worry, there are many options these days. For instance, Orange Theory Fitness is a chain of gyms that show you your heart rate on a large monitor during group workouts led by a coach. This allows you can learn what level of exertion is required to to reach your near maximum heart rate.
Be careful not to over exercise. Over exercising raises inflammation and can trigger autoimmune Hashimoto’s low thyroid flares. However, when you exercise within a healthy range, exercise has anti-inflammatory effects. Exercise should make you feel good, not worse.
Ask my office for more advice on how we can help you manage your Hashimoto’s low thyroid with functional medicine principles.
How to learn if you have Hashimoto’s low thyroid
Many patients are not diagnosed with hypothyroidism or Hashimoto’s until after several years and going through several doctors. It is a demoralizing journey richly illustrated in my book The Truth About Low Thyroid: Stories of Hope and Healing for Those Suffering With Hashimoto's Low Thyroid Disease
, through real-life stories from patients in my practice. Managing Hashimoto’s goes far beyond using thyroid medication as you must work to stop the immune system from attacking the thyroid. For more information on identifying and managing Hashimoto’s low thyroid, contact
About Dr. Josh Redd, Chiropractic Physician — Utah, Arizona, New Mexico functional medicine
Dr. Joshua J. Redd, DC, MS, DABFM, DAAIM, author of The Truth About Low Thyroid: Stories of Hope and Healing for Those Suffering With Hashimoto's Low Thyroid Disease
, is a chiropractic physician and the founder of RedRiver Health and Wellness Center
with practices in Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico. He sees patients from around the world who suffer from challenging thyroid disorders, Hashimoto's disease, and other autoimmune conditions. In addition to his chiropractic degree, Dr. Redd has a BS in Health and Wellness, a BS in Anatomy, and a MS in Human Nutrition and Functional Medicine. He speaks across the nation, teaching physicians about functional blood chemistry, low thyroid, Hashimoto's, and autoimmunity. You can join his Facebook page here