When it comes to thyroid disorders, there are highly specific foods like iodine-rich sea vegetables and maca powder that can help control the symptoms. But what about exercise's role in naturally abating the many emotional symptoms associated with thyroid disorders, such as anxiety and depression?
The Benefits of Hiking for Thyroid Conditions
"Did you know that hiking is one of the best forms of exercise for those with certain thyroid conditions and adrenal fatigue?" writes thyroid expert Fern Olivia for Mindbodygreen. "This is because, in addition to improved cardiorespiratory fitness (heart, lungs, blood vessels), hiking has been shown to reduce depression and help you to sleep better." She adds that "Those who hike regularly have a lowered risk of colon and breast cancer, and possibly lung, thyroid, and endometrial cancer."
Gregory Miller, president of the American Hiking Society, is in agreement: "Research shows that hiking has a positive impact on combating the symptoms of stress and anxiety... Being in nature is ingrained in our DNA, and we sometimes forget that."
The Power of Nature
In addition to working out almost every part of your body (legs, arms, abs, hips, and butt), hiking is a full sensory experience for your eyes, ears, and nose that feeds your creativity and sparks your imagination.
Plus, the workout provides a great opportunity to learn all about the foliage that surrounds you while practicing mindfulness. "When we connect with nature, we naturally become inspired, grounded, and creative," Olivia adds.
She goes on to say, "I have noticed in my practice that many of my clients have manifested thyroid conditions because of a long pattern of not speaking up or feeling blocked creatively. Often, I've seen clients who were physically or emotionally abused and have held the trauma inside." If you have tried everything else such as medication or changing your lifestyle and diet, but can't seem to fully heal from the issue, you might want to give hiking a try. Give yourself space to feel truly liberated from technology and the responsibilities of your daily life.
For all of these reasons, Olivia claims hiking has helped her clients move past emotional issues and cultivate a sense of gratitude in their lives—something she credits to the power of nature. It can easily take you out of your own head, away from fear and anxiety, and help shift your mindset toward peace and gratitude. "Hiking is a great time to take your mind off of the distractions of the modern world and tap into the essence of nature's gifts," she muses. "The sky really is the limit when it comes to the possibilities ahead of you and all that is around you."
For an added bonus on your next hike, you can even download Olivia's 36-minute Thyroid Yoga guided meditation for increased creativity and self-expression.
Iodine. Fact Sheet for Consumers. National Institutes of Health. Office of Dietary Supplements. September 18, 2020.
Benefits of Maca for Thyroid Disorders. ThyroMate. October 26, 2019.
Mitten D, Overholt JR, Haynes FI. Hiking: A Low Cost, Accessible Intervention to Promote Health Benefits. Am J Lifestyle Med. 2016;12(4):302-310. doi:10.1177/1559827616658229