As spectators, we watch athletes compete, and we often witness athletes perform at an elite level for long durations. Most of us will come to believe that it's due to the athlete's dedicated work in their training and preparation, along with nutrition. While these many factors play a significant role in an athlete being able to perform at an elite level, we must not overlook the vital function an athlete's thyroid plays.
The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland in the front of the neck. It produces hormones that control the speed of your metabolism -- the system that helps the body use energy. Thyroid disorders can slow down or rev up metabolism by disrupting the production of thyroid hormones.
The thyroid controls how your body's cells use energy from food, a process called metabolism. Among other things, your metabolism affects your body's temperature, your heartbeat, and how well you burn calories. If you don't have enough thyroid hormone, your body processes slow down.
Thyroid hormones regulate the size and performance of muscles. The thyroid needs to be substantially active to allow a rapid increase in thyroid hormone levels when muscles are performing. As TSH values increase, exercise intensity can increase as well. However, over-exercising uses up most of the T3 in your body; this makes it more challenging to complete even essential daily functions like working, focusing, remembering, and memorizing.
An athlete's thyroid must be functioning at an optimal level for it to have sustained thyroid hormone levels. When thyroid hormones are regulated, an athlete can perform at a high level at an elite level with proper training and preparation.
Studies show with an underactive thyroid competing at a high level for any period for an athlete will become trying. Underactive thyroids have many disruptive attributes like the reduced amount of blood; the heart can pump with each beat, which decreases the amount of oxygen and nutrients transported to the working muscles reducing their performance. Reduced quantity of fat extracted from cells; this means there are not enough fats delivered to tissues. Fat is a crucial substrate for muscle contraction during exercise. Lack of fat in muscles makes muscles weaker. Reduced insulin sensitivity making it increasingly difficult to get sugar from the blood, which is necessary for muscles to work effectively. Also, an underactive thyroid will slow down the rate of recovery for muscle injuries and tears, which means it takes longer to recover from injury and get back to competition.
Now that we have a better understanding of the role and the importance the thyroid plays in athletic performance, what role does it play in our everyday lives as we are just spectators?
Look for our online magazine 'Impact Wellness Solutions' for other ways that our thyroid my impact our daily performance.