Get a Sweat On: Why Exercise Helps Release Toxins

woman sweating exerciseYou already know that exercise feels great and is good for you. It can help you lose weight, help prevent high blood pressure and heart disease, increase your energy and boost your mood. But did you know that sweating from exercise rids your body of toxins?

For a long time, scientists thought that sweating didn’t make a difference when it came to detoxifying.

After all, only about 1% of your sweat consists of toxins. Your most important organs for detoxification are your lungs, liver, intestines and kidneys, and most toxins are excreted in your feces and urine.

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However, recent studies show that sweat can contain higher levels of toxic metals, phthalates, BPA and PCBs than urine. This means that sweating is the body’s preferred way of getting rid of them. Here are some great ways to sweat out those toxins:

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1. Try hot yoga

Hot yoga is performed in a room heated to about 105 degrees Fahrenheit. Not only does it make you sweat, it provides all the benefits of other forms of yoga. It increases strength and flexibility, improves balance and reduces stress. The heat can make your body loosen up much more than usual, so be careful to avoid over-stretching, which can cause injury. You can choose from Bikram yoga, which uses the same 26 poses in every session, or other forms of hot yoga, which allow for a wider variety of poses.

Hot yoga is not for everyone. The high level of humidity in the room can prevent your sweat from evaporating and cooling you down. If you feel nauseous, dizzy or faint, leave the room and cool off. If you have low or high blood pressure, other cardiovascular problems or are pregnant, check with your doctor before taking a hot yoga class.

2. Go for a run

Like other forms of cardiovascular exercise, running is great for lung and heart health. As a weight-bearing exercise, it strengthens your bones and can help prevent osteoporosis.  Running outdoors can provide you with mental stimulation. It can also help increase your confidence by giving you the opportunity to set distance goals and reach them.

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Because it involves repetitive motion, running can lead to injury. Stay safe by stretching before and after a run, and cross training with other forms of exercise. Listen to your body, and stop if you feel pain.

3. Lift some weights

Whether you’re running with wrist weights, holding small dumbbells during an aerobics class or bench pressing your own body weight, adding resistance to your workouts will help you work up a great sweat. Weight training will increase your lean muscle mass and strengthen your bones, tendons and ligaments. It increases bone density and therefore can help you avoid osteoporosis.

If you’re trying to lose weight, resistance training might be a better weight loss method than aerobic exercise. When you train with weights, your body breaks down muscle and then rebuilds it. This process, which continues even after you stop exercising, requires energy and therefore burns calories.

Women considering weight training don’t need to worry about getting too bulky. A bulky weightlifter’s body requires male hormones or anabolic steroids – something a woman trying to stay clean wouldn’t even think of.

4. Use your body

Unless you regularly lift more than your body weight, exercises such as pushups and pullups, which involve using your strength to lift your body, offer the same benefits as weight training. In addition, they help you develop balance, coordination and core strength.

5. Join a team

If you have the opportunity, try working up a sweat by playing for an amateur sports team. Not only will you benefit physically, you’ll enjoy the psychological benefits of social interaction too. The excitement of competition offers psychological stimulation. If your team plays to support a cause or charity, you’ll feel good about yourself whether you win or lose.

Stay Safe

However you decide to sweat it out, take care not to cause more harm than good. If you sweat too much without replenishing fluids, you can become dehydrated and damage your kidneys, which can cause an even greater build-up of toxins.

Avoid drinking pure water if you’re sweating a great deal. Drinking too much water when sweating profusely can cause hyponatremia (low sodium levels), which can be fatal. When hyponatremia is caused by drinking too much water, it is often called water intoxication. Low sodium levels are often found in long-distance runners. You can avoid hyponatremia when exercising by drinking sports drinks with electrolytes, including salt and potassium.

Additional sources:

Biomonitoring and Elimination of Perfluorinated Compounds and Polychlorinated Biphenyls through Perspiration (ISRN Toxicology)

Monitoring and Elimination of Bioaccumulated Toxic Elements (Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology)

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