Taryn Hall-Smith who is the Director of The Contented Body www.thecontentedbody.com talks about the benefits of exercise and detoxification this month.
Exercise and Detoxification
We are all exposed to numerous toxins and harmful chemicals on a daily basis – in the air we breathe, the food we eat, and in the beauty and household products we all use! These substances enter our bodies and are slowly broken down and eliminated, although some do remain lodged in our fat cells for a very long time. Although it is possible to reduce our exposure to and intake of toxins it is practically impossible to avoid them altogether, which is why detoxification or detox measures should be an important consideration for all of us.
Detox simply means the internal cleansing of the body and can come in many forms. A strict detox programme could involve fasting, eating organic foods and taking herbal supplements, as well as other methods of cleansing the body, such as colonic irrigation. However, it is not always practical to embark on a strict detox programme so what about one of the best but often forgotten methods of detoxification - exercise?
We all know about the many health benefits of exercise including its positive effects on our cardiovascular function, blood pressure, blood sugar levels, insulin sensitivity, muscle tone, flexibility, cholesterol levels, weight management, and mood, amongst many other things. The list could go on and on. But not so well documented are the ’hidden’ benefits of exercise in relation to detoxification.
Our bodies are incredibly well designed and are generally very efficient at eliminating toxins and maintaining health. When we exercise we accelerate the detox process and actually cleanse many of our internal organs at the same time. Exercise increases the rate of circulating blood which benefits us two-fold – it increases the delivery of nutrients to all the organs and muscles and it also increases the elimination of toxins in the blood. Exercise also increases the circulation of lymphatic fluids around the body through which toxins and other harmful materials are removed from the body. The increased intake and delivery of oxygen to cells and tissues also aids in more efficient detoxification. Also, as you exercise and start to sweat, toxins are released through the pores of your skin. The skin is the biggest organ in the body and so this is a very efficient method of detoxification. Exercising also helps to break down fatty tissues which not only results in weight loss but also results in stored toxins being released into the body thus allowing them to then be removed.
There is no one type of exercise that is ideal for detoxification purposes because all exercise can have this benefit. Cardiovascular exercise e.g. walking, running, swimming, cycling etc. all get the body moving and help to rid itself of accumulated wastes, toxins and chemicals. Given that sweating does help the body to detoxify, it is best not to rely entirely on swimming as your chosen exercise but also choose to do something that makes you sweat.
Another excellent way to detoxify is through yoga. Yoga involves a lot of twisting and stretching and some of those twists can help squeeze toxins out of certain organs and areas in the body where toxins tend to accumulate. This includes the liver, bowels and joints. If you can stand the heat, a great option is Bikram yoga. This is conducted in a room heated to 38 degrees and the body not only twists out toxins through the poses but also sweats more profusely.
Knowing how and why exercise can help you detox may be an important key in you being motivated to exercise regularly. You shouldn’t need to undertake a strict detox programme if you exercise regularly and allow your body the opportunity to cleanse and heal as an ongoing and regular lifestyle choice. The key to successful detoxification and maintenance of good health is to exercise regularly. Choose something you enjoy, in the knowledge that that regular exercise will help you look and feel better and ensure that your body has the elements it needs to detox and heal itself naturally.