Monday, April 12, 2010

Low Level Cardio - and the stay at home parent.

My apologies for being woefully absent from the blog lately. The 30 day Primal Challenge ended two weeks ago - and I haven't had time to sit down with some uninterrupted time to write a blog post since then. The good news is that I'm still going strong in my pursuit of a Primal lifestyle, and so are the many others who followed me on the 30 day challenge. Thank you to those who joined me and I've enjoyed the encouragement and support we've been able to provide and will continue to provide for one another.

After 30 days of Primal eating, I've begun to focus on the other 9 Primal Blueprint Laws, trying to incorporate them into my day to day life. Law #3 is "Move frequently at a slow pace". Mark Sisson's book The Primal Blueprint describes the benefits of this blueprint law which is the subject of today's blog post:

  • Improved Fat Metabolism
  • Improved Cardiovascular Function
  • Improved Musculoskeletal System
  • Stronger Immune System
  • Increased Energy (p. 171)

The optimal zone for low level cardio activity is between 55 - 75% of one's maximum heart rate. To roughly estimate your max heart rate, use the following equation:

  • 220 - age = est. max heart rate for men
  • 226 - age = est. max heart rate for women (p. 172)

After reading the numerous benefits of low level cardio, I immediately thought to myself, "How on earth am I ever going to find time to go hiking?" and "I can't possibly get to the gym on a regular basis to complete the suggested 3 - 5 hours of low level cardio suggested by the Primal Blueprint" (p. 170). Trying to fit in the requisite three hours of LLC felt like a daunting task.

And then I began thinking about my days, and realized just how much low level cardio I already do. I have three children, we walk to and from school daily. Thats already 100 minutes logged in per week. Thanks to running late most days, I can reach a heart rate of up to 60% on these walks!

And then I thought about housework. I thought it might be fun to complete a few tasks and measure my heart rate while working. Here are a few of the results:

Vacuuming 60% (add to this Primal Blueprint Law #4 - lift heavy things, my vacuum is a beast!)
Making beds & tidying up 60%
Cleaning the bathroom 55%
Mopping the kitchen 60%
Washing walls 60%
Doing laundry 55%
Sweeping 55%
washing windows 50%

Add some speed to this and you can easily stay within the suggested heart rate zone of 55-75% of your maximum. Doing 1/2 hour of housework on weekdays can log 2.5 hours of low level cardio.

In addition to the LLC provided by housework, it also speaks to many of the primal movements that dictated how our genes evolved - Squat, crawl, walk, jump, carry, throw, push, pull (p. 163). I've left out run, climb, and hang but I imagine a creative housekeeper could find a way to throw those movements into their work too!

Increase the benefit of housework by focusing on your squats and doing them with proper form. Carry heavy loads of laundry up and down your stairs, don't use that laundry shoot! Get down on your hands and knees to scrub your floor, use lots of extension and stretch when you wash your walls. If you focus on the movements of each job you do, you will see just how beneficial this work is for your body! Add to this a clean house when you are done, you can not beat it!

So, between regular housework and walking the kids to school I've already logged just over 4 hours of LLC without even trying! Add to this: walking in the evening, a hike with the kids and my partner on the weekend, and working in the garden and I've easily gotten over five hours of low level cardio activity each week.

If you need any more reason to start logging low level cardio, check out this TED lecture on longevity throughout the world. You'll spot several Primal Blueprint Laws here!

I'm hoping to discuss more of the Primal Blueprint Laws and how they relate to a day in the life of a stay at home parent. Stay tuned this week for some exciting news from Joyful Earth!!