Just wondering- I've done LOTS of commuting by bicycle, and I am beginning to think it's the same as chronic cardio, as least as far as my body is concerned. After going paleo, I really embraced stochastic exercise, but it seems like an everyday slog on a bicycle is reverting to modern, chronic exercise. Does anyone commute regularly by bicycle, and if so, have you adjusted your bicycling perspective/commute after going paleo, which I think includes a paleo way to think about exercise, too?
Presumably, the important thing is whether your particular commute entails any of the downsides of chronic cardio, not merely whether it technically falls into the category of 'chronic cardio' set up by some paleo luminaries. So the questions we want answered are: does your commute "raise cortisol levels, increase oxidative damage, systemic inflammation, depress the immune system and decrease fat metabolism." I would be surprised if your commute to work- a normal daily activity- is doing any of these. The whole rejection of "chronic cardio" is premised on the idea that there's little advantage to sustained periods of (relatively) high intensity work and what you want is long periods of low intensity activity and very short bursts of genuinely high intensity work. Within the category of low intensity activity, should fall any of the sorts of normal physical activities that you might undertake in daily life or for general recreation, e.g. walking, playing frisbee etc. "Chronic cardio" by contrast something that you would have to artificially force yourself to because typically, you're aiming to force yourself to go as hard as you can for 30 minutes or so. Presumably, on your commute, you don't force yourself to cycle as hard as you can and as others have noticed, probably aren't exceeding 75-80% of your max heart rate, so you should be fine. If you find yourself aching and tired every night from your commute, with constantly sore muscles, then you might well think that the commute is too hard for you and causing you to sustain some physical damage, otherwise you're probably fine.
I ride to work but I don't consider it "chronic cardio". Cycling in the city is stop start anyway so that breaks things up. I tend to go hard on the hills and treat them as interval training, but cruise on the flats. I keep my heart rate pretty low most of the time. Of course, it also depends how far you are commuting. Mine is 10km and it's only 30min of cycling.
In a society where most people use their cars to get EVERYWHERE, it seems weird that we're worried about the health effects of commuting by bike. I think sitting in a car for an hour+ each day is bound to be much worse for us. I don't know why the paleo community worries so much about cardio. Yeah you don't need to run 15 km a day to be healthy, but we are meant to move around. It's like people read Sisson's posts about "chronic cardio" and make the leap from "Don't kill yourself training for marathons" to "anything besides sprinting and weights is bad for you".
Modern hunter gatherer societies generally expend a lot more calories per day than the average Westerner because of the exercise they get while working.
They also walked everywhere, and carried wood or their babies, and hunted.
So please alert modern hunter gatherer societies that they are not being Paleo and are committing "chronic cardio." (This must be something from the largely unread Mark Sisson camp).
I have struggled to understand the concept of chronic cardio, and Mark Sisson recently elaborated on it in one of his "Dear Mark" posts:
Mark, Thank you so much for this website. It’s such a tremendous resource of information and inspiration! I’m sorry, but I’m currently unable to place jogging in a correct context in the Primal Blueprint. Initially, I thought for sure it fell into the Chronic Cardio camp. But then, in The Primal Blueprint, you suggest it for low-intensity aerobic movement (if one is really fit). Does it come down to the heart rate and time spent? Thanks a lot, Sean
You can boil it down to heart rate and time spent, if you like objective measurements. Certain types of people dig the number porn (particularly the type of person that gravitates toward endurance running, in my extensive experience) and want objective feedback. That’s cool and it totally works, especially when you’re just starting. Ultimately, however, it’ll come down to enjoyment and aptitude. Do you love jogging (or whatever activity it is that you’re questioning)? If yes, then do it (but stop when it becomes a huge drag). Are you really good at it? If you are, then you can probably go harder than most without it becoming Chronic Cardio.
If I were you and I wanted to jog without it getting excessive, I would measure my heart rate and running duration for the first couple times until I began to understand what my targets felt like. So, hit your desired rate, note it, observe yourself, and ask questions. How’s the stamina level? Is this fun? How are your joints feeling? Is this a stressful experience? Am I enjoying myself? How is my overall health? Does my immune system seem to be functioning well? Eventually, you’ll be able to ditch the measurements and go on feeling alone.
I’ve got tons more questions in the pipeline, but I’m always looking for more. Send yours along and I’ll do my best to address them. In the meantime, hit up the comment section. Offer advice of your own, and thanks for reading!
what? chronic cardio is running marathons and going on 100km bike rides. Riding your bike to work is not.... unless you are really unfit and struggle horrendously or you are a compulsive racer and just cant go slow. I sometimes ride 5km in a suit - by taking my time, just cruising, not "going for the doctor" I could gun it and pour sweat but why? 20kph is not hard at all to maintain and not get sweaty. 30kph and your are sweating 40kph and yeah, that's nutty for a commute. Slog? commuting to work by bike should not be a slog unless you want it to be. Get an e-bike/ power bike/ electrically assisted bike if it that big of deal. Dont be too Cardiophobic!
Unless you're living in N.Y.C., Chicago, D.C., or L.A. and biking 15-30 miles from the 'burbs to work, my guess is that you're OK. As long as you keep your heart rate and intensity moderate and I see no reason why this shouldn't be a beneficial practice.
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