Physical activity and cardio-metabolic health in Mexican Tarahumara (Rarámuri) people

Type 2 diabetes (T2D) is highly prevalent in Mexico, especially in acculturated populations of indigenous people. Based on studies in US Pima, indigenous people of North America seem to be highly susceptible to T2D.

Physical (in)activity and diet are the two most important lifestyle determinants in the development and prevention of T2D. The Tarahumara – an indigenous people of northern Mexico – is known to have high physical activity level. Since this group is slowly being acculturated, it will be possible to measure a wide variety of physical activity ranging from the “traditional” (high activity level) to the “transitional” (low activity level) groups. This will enable us to measure the effect of different levels of physical activity volume and intensity on glucose tolerance in Tarahumara.

The project started in 2012 and is still ongoing in 2020










Plasma marker for systemic inflammation is increased in Mexican Tarahumara following ultra-distance running, Peter Durand Skottrup et al., American Journal of Human Biology, 2020;e23501, DOI: 10.1002/ajhb.23501

Transient cardiac dysfunction but elevated cardiac and kidney biomarkers 24 h following an ultra‑distance running event in Mexican Tarahumara, Dirk Lund Christensen et al. Extrem Physiol Med (2017) 6:3,

Normalization of elevated cardiac, kidney, and hemolysis plasma markers within 48 h in Mexican Tarahumara runners following a 78 km race at moderate altitude, Dirk Lund Christensen et al., American Journal of Human Biology, Nov-Dec 2014;26(6):836-43, doi: 10.1002/ajhb.22607, Epub 2014 Aug 22

Physical activity, cardio-respiratory fitness, and metabolic traits in rural Mexican Tarahumara, Dirk Lund Christensen et. al., American Journal of Human Biology, Jul-Aug 2012;24(4):558-61, doi: 10.1002/ajhb.22239, Epub 2012 Feb 5