Cleansing the body through exercise

If you have spent time in a heath food or supplement store — or a grocery store that carries vitamins — then you have likely stopped in front of the shelf featuring “cleanses and detoxes”. Cleansing and detoxing are staples in the campaign towards optimal health and wellness and it is intriguing to think about all the “stuff” that must build up in our bodies due to all the toxins we are exposed to.

Yet it’s important to back up one step and ask “what is a toxin?”

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines a toxin as “a poisonous substance that is a specific by-product of the metabolic activities of a living organism and is usually very unstable, notably toxic when introduced into the tissues, and typically capable of inducing antibody formation”.  Antibodies are produced by our bodies in an effort to defend ourselves.

So, back to that shelf in the vitamin store section. There are many options to choose from. So where do you start?

I recommend that you stop and think about a holistic approach to detoxing your body.  By this I mean, are you getting enough regular exercise?  When you engage in exercise that is vigorous enough to stimulate increased blood flow through an elevated heart rate, you are setting a whole host of positive mechanisms into action, including a series of detoxification processes.

For example, some of the benefits of a 30-minute run include:

  • Lymphatic system cleansing: This stimulates the body to move toxins from the cells into our detox organs(Sprin, n.d.)
  • Sweating: As our bodies warm up and start to perspire. it isn’t just salty water that is coming your of our skin. The body uses this as an opportunity to get unwanted wastes out of the body (Sprin, n.d.)
  • New cell production: As we exercise we are providing a stimulus to our body that signals “out with the old and in with the new” and in this case, that means the elimination of old cells and the generation of new muscle cells. This benefits your cognitive system (Karolinska Instituet, 2007)

As a long time competitive athlete, I can say I don’t feel like myself when I go a day without training (as I do from time to time when my coach has scheduled a day off).  And I find my body doesn’t feel, for lack of a better term, as “fresh and clean” on those days off. And that’s simply because it has missed its regular detox!

So as summer approaches and you are getting more active outdoors, remember that a regular exercise routine has a plethora of benefits, including helping you rid your body of those pesky accumulated toxins.  This is just one more reason you can enjoy and benefit from a regular exercise routine.

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