ased on the analyses of longevity data for professional Japanese traditional artists, researchers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) have found that kabuki actors, known for their vigorous movements, surprisingly had shorter lifespans compared with other traditional arts performers who lead mostly sedentary lifestyles.
The findings suggested that job-related strenuous exercise throughout life may not necessarily extend longevity.
Frequent exercise is often touted as key to leading a long and healthy life, the INQUIRER.NET reported. But few studies have delved into comparisons in longevity between those who partake in vigorous physical activity and those who lead mostly sedentary lifestyles as a result of their occupation throughout their lives.
According to the report, now Naoyuki Hayashi and Kazuhiro Kezuka of Tokyo Tech’s Institute of Liberal Arts have conducted a study that calls into question the idea that vigorous daily exercise positively correlated with longevity.
They compared the lifespans of four groups of Japanese traditional arts performers by examining data from a total of 699 professional male artists, both living and dead, whose birth and death records were all publicly available.
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 were known to perform tea ceremonies, recount comic stories and play musical instruments while sitting, respectively.
However, they found that contrary to expectations, the lifespan of kabuki actors was shorter than that of the other three types of traditional artists.
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.