Exercise: The marathon myths:Exercise and detox

Most studies into exercise and detox do not take into account the individual detoxification capacity of each of us. Nevertheless, there is evidence that exercise is an important part of a detox programme.

To assess the ability of exercise to boost detoxification in 335 subjects, researchers used measured doses of caffeine and traced its degradation in the body by monitoring the amount of caffeine metabolites (breakdown products of caffeine in the body) found in the urine. After 30 days of aerobic exercise, the rate of caffeine degradation had increased substantially in these subjects (Adv Exp Med Biol, 1991; 283: 407-11).

In another study, a single session of aerobic exercise, using a stationary bicycle, doubled the levels of detoxification enzymes found in 11 healthy volunteers (Life Sci, 1990; 47: 427-32).

In an investigation of firemen exposed to toxic polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) who had been put on a two- to three-week detox programme – which involved diet, daily saunas and 30-60 minutes of exercise twice a week – all of the men showed an improvement by the end of the study period. The results suggest that exercise can be a useful part of an effective detox programme (Arch Environ Health, 1989; 44: 345-50).

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