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Is Chronic Cardio Hurting You?

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Your intentions may be in the right place but you may be doing more harm than you think when you get on that treadmill for your consistent chronic cardio workout.

There is mounting evidence that chronic cardio can lead to health problems and is an inefficient way to lose weight.

Our body’s genetics have been shaped by our lifestyle over the past 40,000 years.

Our hunter-gatherer ancestors didn’t spend an hour a day on a treadmill maintaining a significantly high heart rate. A typical day would be to spend hours walking at a slow pace using fat as the primary energy source (as well as sprinting occasionally and lifting heavy things). As such, our current physiology is set up to handle those type of demands.

When you elevate your heart rate for extended time periods on a frequent basis, with little regard for recovery, you start to depend on stored glycogen as an energy source instead of fat. As a result, your body requires excessive amounts of carbohydrates (sugar) to refuel that lost energy. And instead of burning fat you end up burning carbs.

Not only is chronic cardio a poor fat loss tool, but strong evidence shows it may also lead to cardiac arrhythmias, atherosclerosis, oxidative stress, inflammation, osteoarthritis, hip and knee replacements, and heart disease!

I am not suggesting that we do not have the capacity to run long distances or that we should avoid it like the plague. I do however want people to be aware of the potential negative effects and limit the amount of unhealthy chronic cardio as a first choice for fat loss and overall health.

For more information on how to work out more efficiently and how to move your body in a way that allows your genes to express health and wellness, check out our Move By Design manual.

Low to moderate endurance efforts have their place in a balanced training program but just remember… “You’re human, not hamster.”!

References: Here, Here, and Here


Written by Dr. Aaron Cain

Health, wellness, and optimum performance have always interested Dr. Cain. As a kid and early adult, he spent a lot of time training for the goal of being the best hockey player that he could be. This quest brought him to different levels, including junior hockey in Flin Flon Manitoba, Northern Michigan University, The Calgary Flames minor league system, and then over to Europe. As the level of competition increased, it became more apparent that even small increases in performance could make a large difference in what level a player could reach. His experience really motivated him to research optimum performance in athletes. It made sense to him that, if the brain and nervous system control the entire body, the better that this system works, the better the person works. This led Dr. Cain to his next path, Chiropractic School in Atlanta, Georgia. Along with graduating as a Doctor of Chiropractic, Dr. Cain received a master’s degree that focused on athletes and human performance. As fun as it was to work with athletes of all different levels, he started to shift his focus more towards family practice and educating people on not only chiropractic, but also on the way they eat, move, and think. Dr. Cain has always loved the city of Calgary and all that the mountains had to offer. So in 2004, he decided to move here and start his chiropractic practice. Since that time, he has found it very rewarding to help the people of his community reach their health goals and to expand their minds to what is possible by making healthy lifestyle choices. Dr. Cain looks forward to meeting you in person and helping you achieve the level of health you deserve.
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