Physical activity patterns and biomarkers of cardiovascular disease risk in hunter-gatherers

David A Raichlen, Herman Pontzer, Jacob A. Harris, Audax Z.P. Mabulla, Frank W. Marlowe, J. Josh Snodgrass, Geeta Eick, J. Colette Berbesque, Amelia Sancilio, Brian M. Wood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

30 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Objectives: Time spent in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) is a strong predictor of cardiovascular health, yet few humans living in industrialized societies meet current recommendations (150 min/week). Researchers have long suggested that human physiological requirements for aerobic exercise reflect an evolutionary shift to a hunting and gathering foraging strategy, and a recent transition to more sedentary lifestyles likely represents a mismatch with our past in terms of physical activity. The goal of this study is to explore this mismatch by characterizing MVPA and cardiovascular health in the Hadza, a modern hunting and gathering population living in Northern Tanzania. Methods: We measured MVPA using continuous heart rate monitoring in 46 participants recruited from two Hadza camps. As part of a larger survey of health in the Hadza, we measured blood pressure (n = 198) and biomarkers of cardiovascular health (n = 23) including C-reactive protein, cholesterol (Total, HDL, and LDL), and triglycerides. Results: We show that Hadza participants spend large amounts of time in MVPA (134.92 ± 8.6 min/day), and maintain these activity levels across the lifespan. In fact, the Hadza engage in over 14 times as much MVPA as subjects participating in large epidemiological studies in the United States. We found no evidence of risk factors for cardiovascular disease in this population (low prevalence of hypertension across the lifespan, optimal levels for biomarkers of cardiovascular health). Conclusions: Our results provide evidence that the hunting and gathering foraging strategy involves high levels of MVPA, supporting the evolutionary medicine model for the relationship between MVPA and cardiovascular health.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere22919
JournalAmerican Journal of Human Biology
Volume29
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1 2017

Fingerprint

hunter-gatherer
physical activity
cardiovascular disease
activity pattern
cardiovascular diseases
biomarker
biomarkers
Cardiovascular Diseases
Biomarkers
Disease
Health
hunting
health
Sedentary Lifestyle
Tanzania
life-span
mismatch
Health Surveys
C-Reactive Protein
HDL Cholesterol

Keywords

  • blood pressure
  • C-reactive protein
  • cholesterol
  • energetics
  • exercise
  • flex heart rate
  • heart-rate

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Anthropology
  • Genetics

Cite this

Raichlen, D. A., Pontzer, H., Harris, J. A., Mabulla, A. Z. P., Marlowe, F. W., Josh Snodgrass, J., ... Wood, B. M. (2017). Physical activity patterns and biomarkers of cardiovascular disease risk in hunter-gatherers. American Journal of Human Biology, 29(2), [e22919]. https://doi.org/10.1002/ajhb.22919

Physical activity patterns and biomarkers of cardiovascular disease risk in hunter-gatherers. / Raichlen, David A; Pontzer, Herman; Harris, Jacob A.; Mabulla, Audax Z.P.; Marlowe, Frank W.; Josh Snodgrass, J.; Eick, Geeta; Colette Berbesque, J.; Sancilio, Amelia; Wood, Brian M.

In: American Journal of Human Biology, Vol. 29, No. 2, e22919, 01.03.2017.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Raichlen, DA, Pontzer, H, Harris, JA, Mabulla, AZP, Marlowe, FW, Josh Snodgrass, J, Eick, G, Colette Berbesque, J, Sancilio, A & Wood, BM 2017, 'Physical activity patterns and biomarkers of cardiovascular disease risk in hunter-gatherers', American Journal of Human Biology, vol. 29, no. 2, e22919. https://doi.org/10.1002/ajhb.22919
Raichlen, David A ; Pontzer, Herman ; Harris, Jacob A. ; Mabulla, Audax Z.P. ; Marlowe, Frank W. ; Josh Snodgrass, J. ; Eick, Geeta ; Colette Berbesque, J. ; Sancilio, Amelia ; Wood, Brian M. / Physical activity patterns and biomarkers of cardiovascular disease risk in hunter-gatherers. In: American Journal of Human Biology. 2017 ; Vol. 29, No. 2.
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