Feeling sluggish, bloated or like you’re caving in to unhealthy temptations lately? A cleanse or detox may be the jumpstart you need.
Whether you use commercial detox products, make your own juices or just try to eat cleaner for a set number of days, a detox can help you hit the reset button and get yourself refocused on eating healthfully. “Our body regularly and naturally cleanses our system, but eating cleaner or doing a cleanse can help with the process,” says Yami Mufdi, a National Council on Strength & Fitness (NCSF) certified personal trainer and certified yoga instructor.
Although a cleanse can be a solid nutrition booster and inspire you to make healthier choices, you may worry that a detox could derail your fitness progress. But with the right frame of mind–and routine–you can keep your workout plan intact.
Why You Should Exercise During a Cleanse
Let’s face it: Exercise you do while cleansing is not going to be your typical sweat session. Some people feel lighter and euphoric while on a fast, while others feel tired, grumpy and just plain hungry. It’s likely you’ll experience all of these feelings at some point during the detox process. But, continuing to work out is key. Here’s why:
It keeps up the habit. “It’s easy to use a cleanse as an excuse to fall off the wagon, but once you start skipping workouts, you might not get back on track,” says Nikki Walter, certified group fitness instructor and Bodybuilding.com team athlete. Even worse, your guilt from bailing on exercise could send you right into a cheat meal as soon as the cleanse is over, undoing all of your hard work.
It gives you an energy boost. Light exercise has been shown to fight fatigue. If you’re feeling tired, getting in light physical activity can help give you the lift you’re missing from caffeine (which is usually a detox no-no).
It may help you focus. Unless you’re at a health spa where you can target 100 percent of your energy on detoxing, you’re going to have to keep up with work and other responsibilities. “When you’re carb- or protein-depleted, like during a cleanse, it’s easy to get overly emotional or to lose focus. Getting in moderate physical activity can help you handle those emotions and regain your ability to think straight,” says Walter.
How to Work Out While Detoxing
Although working out during a cleanse is beneficial, there are some important things to keep in mind:
Check in with yourself. Before you exercise, take stock of how you’re feeling. “On Day 1 of a cleanse, you might be able to do a HIIT workout. But by Days 4 or 5, if your cleanse lasts that long, you’ll likely be lacking stamina, so opt for a restorative routine like Yoga Flow,” says Mufdi.
Take it easy. Avoid getting your heart rate up too high or doing any strenuous workouts. “When your body is working to detox and flush toxins from your body, your muscle tissue may not be able to repair properly,” says Walter.
Amp up your daily activities. In lieu of a hard-core workout, consider intensifying your everyday tasks. Speed walk with your dog or go further than usual. Play catch with your kids. Sit on a yoga ball at the office or walk to work. You’ll get the benefits of exercise, without pushing yourself too intensely.
Mix it up. A cleanse is a great opportunity to try something new fitness-wise. Yes, you can still go to your usual classes and just take it easier, but you could also check off exercises from your fitness-routine bucket list! Try low-intensity (but still good-for-you!) workouts like Tai Chi, water aerobics or aerial yoga.
Use the gym in new ways. Although it’s important to keep up your routine, you can actually do that without working out. If you’re feeling low on energy, try taking advantage of aspects of the gym that you may have overlooked before. Relax in the sauna. Soak in the pool or hot tub. Or schedule a body fat analysis with a trainer at the gym. You’ll keep up your routine of physically going there, but you can use resources that may be more enjoyable for you while cleansing.
A Yoga Flow Routine You Can Do While Detoxing
Try this gentle Yoga Flow workout from yoga instructor Yami Mufdi to increase energy, keep up your exercise habit and get in a good stretch. Move immediately from one pose into the next. Before you begin this routine, check with your health care provider.
This is also known as Sun Salutation A. Repeat it twice.
Begin in Mountain Pose. Inhale.
Lower torso into a Standing Forward Bend. Exhale.
Push up with your thighs and lift palms off floor to move into a Half Standing Forward Bend. Inhale.
Step back and lower chest and torso to mat to move into a low plank Chaturanga. Exhale.
Lower belly to floor and lift torso into Cobra. Inhale.
Pushing up with arms, place weight on feet to move into Downward Dog. Exhale.
Standing Forward Bend
Half Standing Forward Bend
Low Plank Chaturanga
From Downward Dog, lift your right leg skyward to move into Three-Legged Dog. Inhale.
Exhale and draw your right knee into your chest and shift forward. Plant your right foot in front of you, into a Crescent Lunge. Reach arms toward the sky. Inhale.
Lower your torso and place hands on the mat to move into Lizard Pose. Exhale. Stay here for 3 breaths.
Exhale. Twist toward the right, sending right arm up toward the sky to move into a Low Lunge Twist.
Lower right arm back to the mat. Move right leg back into Downward Dog. Inhale. Exhale.
Step your right foot forward between your palms. Turn your left heel in and lift your torso up. Square your hips. Lift your arms skyward to move into Warrior 1. Exhale. Hold this pose for two breaths.
Extend your arms into a T position and rotate your torso to the right into Warrior 2. Exhale. Hold this pose for two breaths.
Rotate to the opposite side. Hold for two breaths.
Twist back to center. Drop arms to sides and raise back leg parallel to floor to move into Warrior 3. Hold for two breaths. Exhale.
Lower raised leg to move into Mountain Pose. Inhale.
Repeat entire sequence on the opposite side.
Low Lunge Twist
Warrior 2 (Right)
Warrior 2 (Left)
Move into Downward Dog. Hold for three breaths.
Lower your bottom to the floor, into Seated Position.
Lay back onto floor. With shoulders on mat, lift torso skyward into Supported Bridge. Hold for as long as feels comfortable, taking deep breaths.
Lower bottom to floor. Lift bended legs and grab feet with hands to move into Happy Baby. Hold as long as you’d like, breathing in and out.
Lay on your back in Savasana. Inhaling and exhaling until you are ready to resume your day