Vigorous Exercise Daily May Shorten Life: Study

Exercising daily is known to be the key to leading a long and healthy life. Some studies, however, question the idea of vigorous daily exercise.

In a study that analysed longevity data for professional Japanese traditional artistes, researchers found that Kabuki (classical Japanese dance-drama) performers, known for their vigorous movements, had shorter lifespans compared to other art performers who lead relatively sedentary lifestyles.

Based on its findings, the study published in the journal Palgrave Communications suggested that job-related strenuous exercise throughout life may not necessarily extend longevity.

What Is Kabuki?

Kabuki is an art defined by fast and strenuous movement. Considering, it would stand to reason that performers would enjoy all of the benefits frequent activity has been studied to support. However, time logistic regression analysis determined that lifespan is significantly shorter for Kabuki actors compared to the otherwise healthy demographics studied in the report.

“Here we show the effects of various occupations that include being sedentary and performing music and exercise activities and/or birth year on longevity of 699 professional male artists either alive or dead, as reported in books and webpages,” the researchers write in the new paper. Discrete-time logistic regression analysis showed that the lifespan was significantly shorter for Kabuki actors than among the other three Japanese traditional artists. This result suggests that daily strenuous exercise as an occupation shortens rather than prolongs the lifespan.”

The study was conducted by Naoyuki Hayashi and Kazuhiro Kezuka of Tokyo Tech’s Institute of Liberal Arts.

Exercising daily is known to be the key to leading a long and healthy life. Some studies, however, question the idea of vigorous daily exercise.

The current study compared the lifespans of four groups of Japanese traditional art forms. They hypothesised that Kabuki actors would lead longer lives owing to the high-level physical activity involved in their theatrical performances, compared with Sado, Rakugo and Nagauta practitioners, who are known to perform tea ceremonies, recount comic stories and play musical instruments while sitting, respectively.

The researchers postulated that one reason for the shorter lifespans of kabuki artists could be that excessive endurance training and physical activity overwhelmed the beneficial aspects of regular physical exercise.

Another reason might be that in the past, kabuki actors have often worn oshiroi (white powder used for make-up) containing lead, which carried a significant health risk. The use of oshiroi was only banned in Japan in 1934, the INQUIRER.NET reported.

Similarly, pointing out the limitations of their study, the researchers said the data examined male-dominated professions only, and therefore did not give a portrayal of population-wide longevity including females.

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