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Natural Awakenings Boston

Exercise is Crucial: Increase Rate of Elimination to Improve Detox

Jun 30, 2017 02:31AM ● By Keri Layton

When animals experience a near miss, they shake themselves, like a pet coming out of a bath. In contrast, when humans handle near misses, our first response is, “I’m okay,” and walk away calmly, as if nothing happened. Only when it is a very big near miss might we cry and find ourselves shaking uncontrollably, but our first instinct is to suppress. By doing so, we miss a great opportunity to discharge stress hormones and risk locking that trauma into our structure.

Stress is the difference between the demands put on a system and the capacity of that system to meet the demands. Detox lets the body’s ability to eliminate environmental stress become greater than the toxins to which it is exposed.

When most people think of detoxing, they think of diet changes and supplements. These are both important ways to restore the body’s optimal functioning, but there is another step to take first. It is crucial to increase the body’s rate of elimination, and exercise is the best at this job.

Here are five channels of detoxification that open with exercise:

1) Lungs. The most obvious way exercise increases elimination is by increasing the respiration rate. Moving more carbon dioxide out and more oxygen in helps shift cellular metabolism and stops the hyperventilation that comes with anxiety.

2) Sweat. Gentle exercise has an important place in aiding detoxification, but mov ing enough to sweat helps move hormones and even heavy metals out of the fat layer stored just beneath the skin. Intervals of intense exercise actually create more mitochondria in the muscle cells. Mitochondria, the power house of the cell for energy production, are also the power house for detoxification. More mitochondria means more capacity to repair damage to the cells that comes from exposure to environmental toxins.

3) Urine. Many toxins present in the body are eliminated through the kidneys. As cells work to meet the energy demands of exercise, they produce lots of byproducts, and the body washes them out in the urine. This not only increases the opportunity to eliminate more waste from the body, the increased water intake that comes with thirst from exercise dilutes toxins, making them less irritating to the bladder.

4) Stool. Exercise is great for regular bowel elimination. The constipation associated with inactivity results from low tone to the abdomen and the pelvic floor, and adhesions that can form. Exercise not only trains the smooth muscle of the intestines to contract and release, aiding elimination, the motion helps keeps the abdomen mobile.

5) Lymphatics. Not one for the treadmill? Try shaking and bouncing around the house to stimulate the lymph system that lies over the muscles, gently moving waste products towards the kidneys and gastrointestinal tract. These brief moments of complex movements help scramble and discharge the waste products and excess hormones that accumulate, before they lock into muscles.

Keri Layton, ND, has been helping people improve their body’s resilience to daily stress since 2006. To learn more about how she can assist with detoxification at her Back Bay practice, visit

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