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Rock the Detox

Help your body remove toxins with these targeted exercises
©Shutterstock; Illustrations by Kyle Hilton
©Shutterstock; Illustrations by Kyle Hilton

As the year wraps up, if you feel like you’ve hit a weight loss plateau, are frequently sluggish or fighting chronic illness, consider taking a break from aggressive PT regimens and incorporate a detox approach instead. Accumulated daily exposure to toxins and an increase in year-end festivities can overload your digestive, lymphatic and circulatory systems.  The following movements specifically target these areas to help eliminate toxins—thereby boosting your metabolism, immunity and overall work output.


The lymphatic system cleanses and transports toxins out of the body. Jumping rope helps pump lymph into the liver, enhancing its detox abilities. Mix it up between two-foot jumping, one-foot jumping and slalom hops. Also, instead of using a rope, you can perform reps on a mini trampoline, aka rebounder, for less impact. Sets/Reps: Start with 5–10 reps of 30–60 seconds.

TIP: Focus on relaxed, consistent movements and incorporate long, relaxed exhalations for increased oxygen consumption. Any aerobic effort assists lymphatic flow.


Increasing oxygen to the body’s cells helps rush toxins out through the respiratory system. Sit tall with legs crossed. As you inhale, feel the air enter your nose, expand your lungs and then your abdomen—in that order. Place hands on chest and stomach if it helps you focus. Reverse the flow by squeezing the air out of your abdomen, shrinking the space like a vacuum bag, until all air is expired. Sets/Reps: 1–3 sets of 10 full breaths.

TIP: Incorporate this breathing technique in the following poses as well as throughout the day, particularly if you feel stressed or tired.


This inner-thigh, hamstring and lower-back stretch promotes blood circulation and lymph node filtration. Choose a leg width that allows you to maintain straight legs. Flex forward from the hips and assume a relaxed torso and neck position. Sets/Reps: 1 set of two minutes, building up to five minutes.

TIP: Elevate your hips on a pillow if your hamstrings are limiting the forward bend. Incorporate a yoga block or pillow to support torso so you can relax for the duration.


The sphinx pose not only stimulates the kidneys, bladder, stomach, spleen and adrenal glands, but it can also help to improve mood. Support your torso on your forearms and lengthen neck toward the ceiling as you exhale. Slide forearms forward to decrease lower-back pressure. Sets/Reps: 1 set of two minutes, building up to five minutes.

TIP: To increase the stretch, extend arms fully. If the pose is too intense, start with shorter sets of 10–30 seconds. Finish up with a minute in child’s pose to relax the lower back.


This intense pose will stimulate your kidneys, liver, spleen and intestine. Keep feet flat on the floor as you draw hips back into a slight squat. Press palms together and rotate one elbow over opposite thigh. Extend arms if you are able. Sets/Reps: 1 set of two minutes, building up to five minutes.

TIP: Lengthen spine as you inhale. This actively engages the spine as you exhale and twist deeper.

Taking Down Toxins

While we can’t entirely avoid toxins, these small changes can make a big difference. 

Drink water. Increase hydration to assist lymphatic and blood flow for toxin removal.

Go upside down. Lie on your back with legs up the wall to assist lymph flow at day’s end.

Sweat it out. Hit the sauna to promote removal of toxins. 

Go natural. Fill your house and workplace with natural cleaning products, and use natural health and beauty products. 

Massage. Stimulate the lymphatic system with a full body massage—and the added relaxation will help support your other efforts.


Warning: Always seek the advice and guidance of a qualified health provider with any questions or concerns you may have before commencing a fitness program. This article should not be relied on or substituted for professional medical diagnosis or treatment. The exercises presented are for suggestion only. Participate at your own risk. Stop if you feel faint or short of breath.