Elevate Your Detox: Why Exercise Sweating Surpasses Sauna Sessions

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Breaking a sweat isn't just about fitness; it could be a crucial factor in detoxifying your body from harmful metals. Discover how exercise trumps sauna in the latest health study

A new study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health provides evidence that the method of induced perspiration significantly impacts the body's excretion of heavy metals.1 While sweating has long been physiologically established as an effective means of detoxification, the researchers found that dynamic exercise generating active sweating extracts higher levels of contaminants compared to passive sweating in a static sauna environment.

Study Design and Methods

  • This study compared heavy metal excretion in sweat during two sweating conditions: treadmill running vs sitting in a hot sauna.
  • 12 healthy young adults (6 men, 6 women) participated.
  • Sweat was collected after 20 minutes of sweating.
  • The participants either: 1) ran on a treadmill for 20 minutes, followed by 30 minutes of sweat collection or 2) sat inactively in a 45°C sauna for 20 minutes with 30 minutes of collection.
  • Concentrations of nickel, lead, copper, arsenic, and mercury were analyzed.

Key Findings

  • Nickel, lead, copper, and arsenic concentrations were significantly higher in sweat during treadmill running compared to sauna sitting.
  • However, mercury concentrations did not differ between the two sweating conditions.
  • The study shows sweat composition and heavy metal excretion differs by type of sweating.

Implications for Detoxification

  • The findings suggest dynamic exercise that induces sweating could be more effective for excreting toxic heavy metals like lead and arsenic compared to passive heating.
  • However, for mercury specifically, the sweating method did not make a difference. This could be because most mercury is stored in red blood cells rather than plasma.
  • For individuals looking to actively detoxify metals, engaging in exercise that stimulates vigorous sweating is likely more productive than infrared saunas.
  • The limitations are that mercury differences need further study due to complex storage and small sample size. But active sweating appears beneficial for eliminating other toxic metals.

These results highlight for the first time that heavy metals may be differentially excreted based on sympathetic stimulation of sweat glands, rather than merely thermal mechanisms. It should also be noted that heavy metals can act like metalloestrogens, mimicking human hormones and xenobiotic compounds that have estrogenic activity. This makes research like this all the more important, as it provides a practical method for mitigating dangerous exposures to metals known to accumulate in the human body and which may be having body-wide endocrine disrupting activities even in exceedingly small concentrations.

Also, given this study shows active sweating is more compelling than inactive sauna-induced sweating (except for mercury), the reality is that exercise has a wide range of additional health benefits, making it all the more compelling to incorporate an active sweating component to one's preventive strategy for optimizing one's health and well-being.  To view the extensive clinical data on the wide range of health benefits associated with exercise, visit our database on the topic here.

Finally, one important way to increase the volume of sweat produced when exercising, while helping to reduce inflammation and oxidative stress associated with physical exertion, the use of ginger can be very helpful. Ginger is known as a diaphoretic (sweat-inducing agent), and is a safe, effective, accessible and affordable way to support the detoxification process. Learn more about ginger on our database on the subject here.

For more on the health benefits of exercise, visit the GreenMedInfo database on the subject here:


1) Kuan, W.-H., Chen, Y.-L., & Liu, C.-L. (2022). Excretion of Ni, Pb, Cu, As, and Hg in Sweat under Two Sweating Conditions. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 19(7), 4323. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19074323

Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of GreenMedInfo or its staff.

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