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Effect of yogic exercises on thyroid function in subjects resident at sea level upon exposure to high altitude

Abstract

Using radioactive iodine, the effect of 1 month's yogic exercises has been investigated on the thyroid function of subjects resident at sea level (SL) specially after their exposure to high altitude (HA). The results have been compared with a group of SL subjects who underwent physical training (PT) exercises for the same duration. Ten healthy male volunteers in the age range of 20–30 years were used as test subjects in this study with each serving as his own control. The subjects were randomly divided into two groups of 5 each. One group practised hatha yogic exercises, while the other group performed the regular PT exercises. The thyroidal accumulation and release of radioactive iodine have been measured in each of the subjects of both groups before and after 1 month of their respective exercises at SL. One month of yogic exercises at SL has been observed to cause a significant reduction in the trans-thy-roidal availability of radioiodine. The thyroid radioactivity in this group of subjects was always below normal levels with the exception of two peaks of radioactive iodine uptake, when the levels of radioactivity in the thyroid were similar to the control values of pre-yogic exercises. The release of radiolabel at 24–48 h was significantly increased after yogic exercises. In contrast, the subjects performing PT exercises for the same duration at SL showed significant thyroid uptake of radioactive iodine at 24 h. Subsequently their131I uptake continued to rise slowly until 72 h without any demonstrable thyroidal release of radiolabel. This indicated that increased thyroid activity was induced by conventional PT exercise. Exposure of SL residents to HA irrespective of their exercise regime altered the thyroidal handling of radioiodine. Thyroidal concentrations of freshly administered radioiodine at early and late sampling intervals were very high in both of the groups, especially the yogics, after their return to SL from HA. Possible mechanisms of the observed changes have been discussed.

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Correspondence to S. B. Rawal.

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Rawal, S.B., Singh, M.V., Tyagi, A.K. et al. Effect of yogic exercises on thyroid function in subjects resident at sea level upon exposure to high altitude. Int J Biometeorol 38, 44–47 (1994). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF01241804

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Key words

  • Thyroid function
  • Yogic exercises
  • High altitude