04/25/2009 05:12 am ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

Do You Have to Exercise?

One of the most frequently asked questions among my readers and clients is "Do I have to exercise?" Let's shine a new light on exercise, once and for all.

There are three key things the body needs to be doing constantly:

1. Taking in oxygen
2. Pushing out poisons (primarily through the bowel, skin, liver, and lymph)
3. Pumping fresh life force energy (aka chi)

When any of these three functions slow down, we slow down. When they stop, we stop.

Now, here's where exercise enters the picture. If your goal is vibrant health and ideal weight and optimal vibrations, you must maximize the above three functions. Some common exercises will help you achieve this, but only in the presence of lots of fresh air. Further, they will only benefit you significantly if you are also eating pure, well-combined foods; removing the internal build-up of toxins lodged in your cells; and ensuring that life force energy is flowing throughout your mental and emotional bodies as well.

Do not base exercise on calories or fat burned, which are the completely wrong measuring sticks. Approach exercise as a way to help achieve optimum oxygenation, remove waste, and increase the flow of chi. Of course, your level of enjoyment is another important consideration.

In other words, physical exercise is not the end-all-be-all of the detox lifestyle. For example, you might enjoy a "gentleman's workout" of a sauna, some deep breathing or meditation, and a short but invigorating walk outdoors. Coupled with a cleansing diet of fresh, natural foods, this could keep you looking and feeling much younger, leaner, and stronger than if you were to spend hours each week on gym equipment. Exercising in a stale gym environment does very little to contribute to the functions that matter, particularly when paired with a typical gym-goer's diet of dense, lifeless, mucus-forming, high-protein foods and shakes. So will you get off the bloody StairMaster already?!

You can count and burn calories till the ice cream truck comes around again, but you will make very little, if any, progress if your cells and tissues are still burdened with waste matter and you're inhabiting poorly ventilated spaces. The good news is that if you have been pounding away on the elliptical trainer with little change to your, um, "bottom line," it's not because you've failed to push yourself. Rather, your push failed you!

Now, here's how to make your effort pay off. Instead of a regular exercise routine, what I would recommend is to consult your body on a daily basis and ask yourself the following sets of questions:

1. Is my breathing deep, connected, and calm? Am I in my body today or swirling up in my head? What is the quality of the air my blood is receiving? Could I use a nature walk or some deep breathing to oxygenate my blood and bring serenity to my decisions, relationships, and work life?
2. How is my chi flowing today? Is it stagnant? What kind of movement does it require? A real shake-up? A rolling, rhythmic run? Some fluid movement like dance? Also, why is my energy stagnant? Is it from lack of movement (too much desk work) or constipation? Have I been indoors for too long with poor ventilation? Do I need some fresh air?
3. How have my eliminations been? How does my lymphatic system feel--are the nodules around my armpits or neck tender? Do I feel in need of some extra nurturing? Am I dragging my feet, lacking energy?

If the answer to any of these latter questions is "yes," your elimination channels are overloaded, calling out for new-concept exercises like deep sweating, massage therapy, bowel cleansing, rest or meditation, and body brushing. Yes, you can go for a run or do some hardcore exercise if your body is calling out for that, but consider rebalancing yourself in these other ways.

Whatever exercise you like--be it yoga, weight training, boxing, or some other sport--take it outside into the fresh air if possible, or at least open the windows. Also, take a look around and see what combination of activities best suits your location. Don't become robotic in your routines. Listen to what your body is telling you. As you implement the basic principles of this detox lifestyle, you'll get more out of, say, dancing around your house for ten minutes (windows open, please!) than getting up early or skipping an evening with loved ones to hit the gym.

Make no mistake: I'm not discouraging exercise. I'm simply urging you to invest your time and energy wisely in activities that will make the greatest positive impact on your beauty, vitality, and longevity. Stop forcing yourself to do exercises you hate, and do what makes you feel peaceful, clear, and joyful!