Structured exercise program improves functional capacity and delays relapse in euthyroid patients with Graves' disease

Disabil Rehabil. 2012;34(18):1511-8. doi: 10.3109/09638288.2012.660599. Epub 2012 Mar 7.


Purpose: To evaluate short- and long-term effects of structured exercise program in euthyroid patients with Graves' disease.

Methods: The study employed a retrospective case-control design. The exercise group (n = 62) underwent 3 weeks of structured exercise program consisting of daily walking, strengthening, and stretching exercises while the control group (n = 62) participated in leisure activities. Thyroid profile, aerobic capacity, and perceived fatigue were evaluated on in-patient admission and discharge. Time to discontinuation of anti-thyroid medication after discharge and time to relapse of symptoms were determined.

Results: The exercise group increased estimated peak oxygen consumption (significant group-by-time ANOVA interaction, P < 0.001), decreased serum thyroxin (P = 0.038), increased serum thyrotropin (P = 0.071), and reported less fatigue (Fisher's exact test, p < 0.001) from admission to discharge. The anti-thyroid medication was withdrawn within 6 months of discharge in significantly greater proportion of subjects in the exercise than control group (84% vs. 18%). Conversely, the rate of relapse within 12 months of medication withdrawal was smaller in the exercise (29%) than control group (72%).

Conclusions: The results suggest that structured exercise program may normalize thyroid profile, improve aerobic capacity, and reduce fatigue on the short-term basis as well as reduce the need for anti-thyroid medication on the long-term basis.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antithyroid Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Exercise Therapy*
  • Exercise Tolerance
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Goiter, Nodular / complications
  • Goiter, Nodular / therapy*
  • Graves Disease / complications
  • Graves Disease / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Oxygen Consumption
  • Recurrence
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Serbia
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Thyroid Function Tests
  • Thyroid Hormones / blood
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult


  • Antithyroid Agents
  • Thyroid Hormones

Supplementary concepts

  • Euthyroid Goiter