Beating Multiple Chemical Sensitivities with Fitness
We all experience the noxious effects of chemicals in our environment, to some extent or another. We are regularly exposed to about 75,000 new chemicals that have been created in the last 50 years. And less than 10 percent of those have been tested for their toxicity.
You might occasionally react to some toxic substance that you’ve been exposed to. Or, you may suffer chronically from multiple chemical sensitivities (MCS) from being bombarded with chemicals. Symptoms of MCS or reactions to exposure of a toxic substance may include:
We may experience a reaction to the chemicals around us, or we may not. But we all carry a chemical load due to our exposure to heavy metals, pesticides, volatile organic compounds, and other chemicals that permeate our environment. We absorb these substances through our food, water, breathing, and skin.
Regular exercise – especially aerobic — helps relieve MCS symptoms and prevent future occurrences. Below are just a few of the ways that physical activity helps to cleanse, bring balance and relieve stress. Exercise:
1. Detoxes the body.
Exercise induces sweating which helps remove toxic substances from the body.
As we exercise our body heats up, mobilizing the chemicals held in our fat. These toxins are then released and excreted through the pores.
2. Oxygenates the blood.
Our respiratory system and every metabolic function in our bodies require oxygen. Exercise increases oxygen take-up.
Many toxic waste materials in the body can only be neutralized through oxidation, which requires adequate oxygen in the blood.
3. Removes waste through the lymphatic system.
The lymphatic system bathes the cells and carries away the “garbage.” There is no pump in the body to flush the lymphatic system. Instead this requires movement and breathing deeply from the diaphragm for this to occur. Exercise accomplishes this masterfully.
4. Relieves stress.
Many of the symptoms of stress mirror those of MCS and stress exacerbates the effects of MCS. When under stress, our bodies secrete stress chemicals like cortisol and adrenalin. Unless we eliminate these stress chemicals, they cause serious problems in our bodies. Physical exercise is one of the best ways to get rid of these toxic stress chemicals.
5. Speeds up the metabolism.
As the metabolism speeds up, toxins are expelled from the body more rapidly and efficiently. Also, exercise moves food through the digestive tract more quickly, thus eliminating problems like constipation and other intestinal issues, which hinder the lymphatic system’s ability to function properly.
Physical exercise offers so many healthful benefits! In addition to the above, it improves the body’s energy production, releases feel-good endorphins, lowers blood sugar and blood pressure, lowers LDL cholesterol, while boosting HDLs, and supports the immune system. Just rattling off all these benefits makes me want to go out and exercise, so I think I will!
Tips for Exercising with MCS
Here are 9 tips for exercising with a view to relieving, minimizing and preventing MCS:
1. Choose an aerobic exercise you enjoy.
There are so many to choose from including: walking briskly, running, jogging, hiking, cross-country skiing, snow-shoeing, bicycling, Jazzercise or some other aerobic dance, rowing, swimming, etc.
2. Exercise outside in a non-toxic setting.
Even if your home has filters, a non-toxic park or other outdoor setting is probably freer from toxins. Exercising outdoors seems to speed the recovery of many MCS patients. Avoid exercising near traffic or in a heavy industrial area. Watch air quality reports and avoid exercising outdoors when the air quality is particularly poor.
3. Stay hydrated.
Drink plenty of filtered water from a BPA-free water bottle. Hydration is an important part of the cycle for metabolic processes and sweating.
4. Exercise in clothes and equipment free of offending chemicals.
Also, wash your clothes with a non-toxic laundry soap.
5. Eat organic foods.
Organic foods should contain fewer harmful toxins like pesticides and fertilizers. They also tend to be richer in nutrients and minerals to power you through your exercise routines.
6. Practice proper breathing.
Many people are unaccustomed to breathing deeply from their diaphragm. Exercising can help with this skill. Consciously develop a deep, breathing rhythm as you engage in your physical activity.
7. Exercise to a sweat and shower right after.
Sweating helps detox the body, but it’s important to shower afterward to remove the toxins from your skin. Otherwise they may be reabsorbed. Also, shower rather than bathe in order to fully wash contaminants off your body.
8. Replenish your electrolytes.
In addition to expelling toxins, sweating also expends important minerals like magnesium, sodium and potassium. Replenish these with fruit or make your own electrolyte drink.
An infrared sauna is best and supplements exercise with additional ability to extract toxins from the body through the pores.
Drink 12 oz. of water and then enter the sauna immediately after completing your exercise. Begin with about 10-15 minutes. If you experience any discomfort or dizziness, leave promptly. If you do fine for 2 weeks at 15 minutes, increase to 20 minutes if you wish. If you have no ill effects at all in the sauna, you can gradually increase to a maximum of 45 minutes (increasing the time by not more than 5 minutes each week). Put a small towel on the bench where you sit so your sweat does not contaminate the sauna. Try to sauna once per day at least 5 to 6 days per week. Upon leaving the sauna, drink another 12 oz. of water to avoid a headache. Then, shower after the sauna. Beware of public saunas that may be cleaned with toxic chemicals.
Regular aerobic exercise is one of the key factors for recovery, minimizing and preventing MCS and maintaining overall health. Exercise provides a combination of heat and sweating, oxygen, increasing metabolic rate and reduced gut transit time to encourage detox and heal from MCS. Find an exercise you enjoy and begin this week to enjoy its many benefits!
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