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Healthiest Hearts in the World

By Scott Wikgren, Human Kinetics

I just read an interesting article by Dr. Sanjay Gupta title “Life Lessons from the Native Tribe with the Healthiest Hearts in the World.” ( Gupta had read reports that the Tsimane, an indigenous tribe living deep in the Amazon rainforest, have the healthiest hearts in the world. Gupta traveled to Bolivia to learn why.



The most surprising aspect of what Gupta learned was that there was nothing surprising about what he learned. Well, not surprising to me anyway.


  • On average, the Tsimane take about 17,000 steps a day. 
  • A typical day consists of hunting, gathering, and playing soccer. Almost no sitting. 
  • The Tsimane have a strong social fabric with lots of laughing, chatting and sharing. 
  • They operate on a predictable sleep schedule based on sunlight. They sleep when the sun goes down and awake when the sun comes up. 
  • 70% of the Tsimane diet consists of plantains, cassava, rice and corn that was not processed or refined and did not include added sugar or salt. 



To me this sounds similar to the key concepts encouraged in a quality health and physical education curriculum.


In conclusion, Gupta wrote, “While heart disease kills hundreds of thousands of Americans every year and costs nearly a billion dollars a day, the Tsimane remind us that wealth doesn't necessarily buy health and that simple solutions surround us, if we just take the time to notice” ...and support quality health and physical education programs.     


Prior to joining Human Kinetics, Scott was a physical education teacher, coach, and sports reporter. Today he enjoys tennis, hiking with his dog, and pretty much any outdoor physical activity. He also enjoys playing with his six grandchildren and hopes to pass on his love of sports, physical activity, and the outdoors to them.


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