My Truths #101 (chronic cardio)

by Stephanie

There’s a fine line between chronic cardio and play. The Primal lifestyle discourages chronic cardio claiming that it promotes a cortisol response which leads to premature aging, inflammation and other negative health consequences. According to the Primal Blueprint chronic cardio is defined as “long stretches at a sustained heart rate in the 80+% range [of your maximum heart rate]”. I sometimes wonder if the cycling that my husband and I do would be considered chronic cardio and therefore not as “healthy” as I think it is but when I break it down I’m confident that it’s a good thing!

Let me describe our cycling habits. As soon as the weather warms up we’re off cycling most evenings after work for 45 minutes and on Saturdays for 3-4 hours. This is a lot of cardio per week but here’s why it’s not “chronic cardio” as defined by Mark Sisson. Firstly, we live in a very hilly area so we enjoy built in interval training…the 45 minutes is nicely broken up in to bouts were we are exerting ourselves greatly (going up hill) with rest periods (going down hill) so we are avoiding the “sustained” elevated heart rate. Secondly, although I would not describe our pace as leisurely, I would also not define it as all out. Particularly on the weekends, we enjoy the scenery along the way and we break the ride up with two ferry rides and a half way stop at a farmer’s market. Our weekend ride actually feels more like “play” than a workout. PLAY=GOOD. Don’t get me wrong… the ride certainly has its difficult moments with challenging climbs and headwinds. Not to mention those little sprints when my husband says “race you to the top!”. I used to hate when he did that but now I like it because I can check “sprinting” off my to-do list too!


Romeo & Juliette Ferry, Nov, 2012  (that motorcycle behind us is NOT ours!)