Getting rid of toxins in the body will give you more energy.

So here’s another reason to exercise: exercise accelerates the detoxification process. Exercise pushes the blood to circulate more efficiently through the body, allowing nutrients to more easily reach all the organs and muscles. At the same time, exercise helps lymph fluids circulate through the body, which removes toxins and other harmful materials. When you exercise, you naturally take in more oxygen; to make room for the added oxygen, your cells kick out toxins that are taking up space. When you exercise properly, you build up a sweat and toxins are released through the pores of the skin.

What’s The Real Reason for Exercise?

Shock! It’s not to lose weight…more about this later when we share the way our bodies prioritize the refilling of fat in our cells when we use it up with exercise. And what science has shown we need to do to make losing weight, gaining muscle and getting healthier more effective, efficient and longer lasting. First all the other reasons why exercise is a necessity to keeping our bodies healthy.      

health_effects_of_pollutionScientists have discovered in study after study a surprising and disturbing fact: our environment and the pollutants that it contains are causing epidemic insulin resistance syndrome, diabetes and increased fat storage in population around the world. In studies conducted by the Environmental Health Perspective (EHP) studies support the conclusion that Persistent Organic Pollutant Exposure Leads to Insulin Resistance Syndrome.

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) confirms this fact. In their studies they found the average person has over 91 toxic chemicals (they can have upwards of 165) in their body. Of these chemicals 76 are known to cause cancer, 94 are known to be toxic to the brain and nervous system, and 79 are known to cause birth defects and abnormal fetal development.

Inside the body, these chemicals effect our ability to balance blood sugar and metabolize cholesterol and eventually lead to insulin resistance. Dr. Hyman describes this process well when he shares: “If your body’s detoxification tools aren’t up to snuff, waste will build up. Overtime, the damage is similar to what happens when trash collectors go on strike and don’t pick up the garbage off the streets. The waste piles high, making the neighborhood smell bad and creating a breeding ground for illness.

goal-2Think…increased insulin resistance = increased feelings of tiredness = increased storage of fat after we eat = …”I can’t lose the weight no matter what I do!!!”. Maybe it’s not what you’re doing but rather what your breathing in.

Since we can’t simply stop breathing we need to approach this inevitable fact in another way. Exercisebut not for the reasons you think. We have an amazing lymphatic and immune system that works daily to rid our bodies of toxins and bring it back to a state of homeostasis. Problem is two-fold – first our systems can only handle so much of a toxic load before they become over loaded and begin losing the battle (chronic pain, inflammation, disease, fatigue, digestive troubles, etc.) Second, we are over inundated with toxins in the air we breathe, the foods we eat and the products that we use.  

What’s Exercise Have to do with It?

Getting to the point…We felt we needed to share the background data with you to make the rest of our article more valid. So what does EXERCISE have to do with it? We need to alter our reason for exercising from “I exercise to lose weight” to “I exercise to live a longer, healthier, happier life”. Both achieve the same goal because they lead to better health and greater fat loss…but the later should give you a stronger purpose for why you are doing those sprints and what they are helping to achieve in your body. And change the way you are approaching exercise (smile, it actually makes exercising clearer to understand, shorter in duration, and less frequent)     

How Exercise Helps our Bodies and Brains Stay Young

The Immune System Benefits…

Exercise increases gut transit time – food moves through you more quickly so that you get rid of the waste toxins more quickly. A note here: sitting for prolonged hours at our jobs increases our intestinal discomforts and diseases (abdominal contents compress, slows down digestion, cramping, bloating, heartburn, and constipation, as well as dysbiosis in your gastrointestinal tract – “inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and celiac disease, while extra-intestinal disorders include allergy, asthma, metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease, and obesity.”

The Lowering Inflammation Benefits…

senior-exercisersThe right exercise has been proven to reduce inflammation when done correctly and on a consistent basis. This is achieved because regular exercise reduces fat mass and adipose tissue which is where toxins are stored. As the fat is released inflammation that is caused by these toxins is reduced and thus lower the systemic inflammation – this is the primary reason why exercise makes you hurt less and feel better.                                             

The Lymphatic System Benefits (body fluids)…

Exercise stimulates our lymphatic system – our body’s sewer system. The lymphatic system has millions of vessels just like the blood system that moves fluids through our bodies…but it has no heart or motor to keep these fluids moving in the right direction. Instead, lymph is moved by breathing, walking, intestinal activity, and muscle action. As muscles tighten, lymph vessels are squeezed and lymph is pushed along and filtered through lymph nodes on its way back to the veins and the heart effectively cleaning our bodies and pushing toxins out. If for no other reason – exercise to move your lymphatic because you will improve every anti-aging process in your body!  

The Endoctrine System Benefits (Hormone Glands) …                   

human-growth-hormoneExercise stimulates the endocrine system in 4 different areas that affect our hormone levels, moods, and blood pressure according to studies conducted by the American Council on Exercise.

  • Pituitary Gland
    During exercise, the pituitary gland releases human growth hormone, which tells the body to increase bone, muscle and tissue production.
  • Thyroid Gland
    When you start exercising, the thyroid gland (located at the base of the neck) sends out hormones that regulate the body’s temperature, heart rate and blood pressure. It also regulates the alertness and focus that are needed to work at a high intensity.
  • Adrenal Gland
    Located at the top of the kidneys, the adrenal glands are responsible for the release of cortisol into the bloodstream. Cortisol levels control blood pressure, glucose and acts as an anti-inflammatory agent. The adrenal glands also release aldosterone, a hormone that regulates hydration levels, the speed of the heart and the strength of contractions. It also turns stored carbohydrates into energy.
  • Pancreas
    Insulin regulates glucose, or blood sugar, by transporting it to the muscles and tissue that use glucose for energy. Excessive insulin in the blood reduces your sensitivity to insulin and can cause diabetes, which is also linked to overweight and obesity. Exercise improves insulin sensitivity and reduces the reliance on insulin injections.

Most Importantly – Your Brain Benefits…

brain-and-exerciseHere’s the most important benefit in our opinions, which especially applies to those of us (including me) experiencing the brain fog that comes with age: exercise changes the brain in ways that protect memory and thinking skills.

In a study done at the University of British Columbia, researchers found that regular aerobic exercise, the kind that gets your heart and your sweat glands pumping, appears to boost the size of the hippocampus, the brain area involved in verbal memory and learning. Dr McGinnis, Harvard Medical School, was involved in studies that demonstrated that regular exercise of moderate intensity over six months or a year is associated with an increase in the volume of selected brain regions.

According to an article by Dr. Mercola and his research team, exercise promotes brain health by releasing hormones from the muscles, which encourage the growth of new brain cells — a process known as neurogenesis or neuroplasticity.

He goes on to share that “Your brain’s hippocampus, i.e. your memory center, is particularly adaptable and capable of growing new cells throughout your entire lifetime, even into your 90s, provided your lifestyle supports it.” One year-long study found that adults who exercised regularly were actually enlarging their brain’s memory center by one to two percent per year, where typically that center shrinks with age.

The growth occurred in the hippocampus, the memory center of the brain, and the mice showed significant improvements in the ability to recall memories without any confusion.  A number of other studies have investigated the impact of exercise on brain performance and IQ. Some of the research highlights include:

  • Among elementary school students, 40 minutes of daily exercise increased IQ by an average of nearly four points
  • Among sixth graders, the fittest students scored 30 percent higher than average students, and the less fit students scored 20 percent lower
  • Among older students, those who play vigorous sports have a 20 percent improvement in Math, Science, English, and Social Studies
  • Students who exercised before class improved test scores 17 percent, and those who worked out for 40 minutes improved an entire letter grade
  • Employees who exercise regularly are 15 percent more efficient than those who do not, which means a fit employee only needs to work 42.5 hours in a week to do the same work as an average employee does in 50

Cauliflower Moment…Exercise once thought to be mostly for weight loss is really mostly for the thoughts and body systems that keep us living longer, happier lives.   

We could keep going on with all the other systems it benefits…but I think you got the idea that we should exercise for so many more reasons than just fat loss and increased muscle mass.

joggingWe were like many of you in that we exercised for hours each week in the misguided thought that we were becoming healthier and burning off tons of calories. On “good workout days” we could eat all we wanted because we burned so many calories – on no exercise days we gave up eating fats, cut out many snacks and ate smaller meals.

Guess what? It didn’t work for us and for most people you see at the gym every day. We lost weight slowly but it always came back; we felt tired when we ate less or ate too much; we had aches and pains that were becoming just a natural part of our days; our health markers were starting to show that our health was not as good as it had been years prior. We had it all wrong, and with one of us being a fitness instructor and the other a academic we both felt angry we had been so misled. Read more to learn the Scientifically Proven Best Exercises for Fat Loss/Health, Longevity and Reduced inflammation in our next article in this series titled “High Intensity Interval Training is Easier, More Effective and Burns More Fat”. Read What Makes Weight Go Up and Down?

We would love to hear from you. Send us your questions, concerns and stories. We are all learning in this process together 🙂