Muscle Sculptor Mondays – Old Time Sculptors Live Longer than Painters

Today we have a new study to share with you muscleheadz: Lives of the artists: differences in longevity between old master sculptors and painters Phillip Greenspan1,*, Grete Heinz2 and James L. Hargrove3 (Full Text)

Bodybuilders and lifters whether casual or professional are all artists in the eyes of the Lord. We work our asses off day in day out; you can put us in a high end gym, or some non-air conditioned weight room around the corner – WE DON’T CARE! As long as there’s a reasonable amount of plates, a sturdy bar, and some dumbbells, then we know what to do next: 

“Use blood and guts to craft the body of a Grecian God!”

We can compare what we do to that of a sculptor – our most famous example is Michelangelo with his masterpiece, David:

Very beautiful indeed!

Interestingly, our featured study for the day looked into the lives of the artists of the old. The researchers wanted to know if sculptors enjoyed longevity because of their very taxing profession. Hey do you think it’s easy to cut stones and turn them into 3d portraits? Hell no! I can only imagine what Michelangelo’s body conditioning was like, damn! Maybe he was even more muscular than David himself!

Since that’s the case, the researchers compared the lifespan of Sculptors to that of Painters of the same time period. Painters would make a good control group for this case because you can imagine the difference between the physical activities between the two groups on a day to day basis.

While I don’t like counting calories, the researchers do. In fact, they cited the average caloric expenditures of sculpting stone and painting. If Johnny Bowdlerize weights 65 kilos, then would spend an average of 6.5–9.1 kcal per minute of sculpting stone with hammers and chisels. If Johnny gets tired of sculpting and decides to paint instead; he would spend an average of 2.3–3.9 kcal/min. I think the difference is immense, I don’t know; maybe it’s just me. (Source: Ainsworth BE, Haskell WL, Whitt MC, et al. Compendium of physical activities: an update of activity codes and MET intensities. Med Sci Sports Exerc 2000;32 Suppl. 9:S498-504.)

The Study goes like this:

The historical record of the old master European painters and sculptors is well documented. Giorgio Vasari published the biographical history of Italian artists ‘Lives of the Painters, Sculptors, and Architects’ in 1550 while Carel van Mander’s ‘Schilderboeck’, the classic study on Dutch and German artists, was published 54 years later. These publications provided biographical information on the artists as well as discussing their important artistic output. From these initial biographies and extensive art historical research, the lives of important European old master artists are as well documented as any occupation from the Renaissance to modern times.

Approximately 500 years after the birth of Raphael and Michelangelo, Paffenbarger and colleagues studied the mortality rates of longshoremen working on the docks of San Francisco. Longshoremen working as cargo handlers had a decreased mortality when compared to workers with a less vigorous workload. The strength of the study was the control group, individuals with seemingly the same ethnic and economic background but assigned to a lighter workload. The decrease in mortality was documented to be a result of a lower incidence of cardiovascular disease, the leading cause of death in America in the 1970s. The question arises whether old master sculptors had a longer lifespan when compared to their painter counterparts since the sculpting of stone expends more energy than applying tempera and oil to canvas or wood.

Some interesting stuff that they learned:

.Sculptors live 3 years longer than painters in average: Analysis of the database revealed that painters lived 3 years less than sculptors (63.6 ± 0.9 versus 67.4 ± 1.1).

. Painters were much more likely to die before the age of 40 than were sculptors (9.1 versus 2.7% of the population)

. More sculptors lived into their eighties (21 versus 13% of the population)

.More Sculptors lived to the age of 70: sixty percent of the painters versus only 48% of the sculptors died prior to the age of 70

Most importantly, the difference in longevity between sculptors and painters was not related to geographical location. That means that the results were the same wherever you are, therefore the implications can be considered UNIVERSAL. Here’s the table showing that:

sculptors live longer

Immunity: The researchers think that the longevity was associated with the capacity of exercise to stimulate immunity, since the leading cause of death during the times of Michelangelo were infectious diseases. If that’s the case (and it is), then exercise serves as a very potent antibiotic. (Petersen AMW, Pedersen BK. The role of 1L-6 in mediating the anti-inflammatory effects of exercise. J Physiol Pharmacol 2006;57 Suppl. 10:43-51)

So do you need to take sculpting as a hobby?

It would be nice to do so, but just to mention – Sculpting and Painting wasn’t a “hobby” for the people who were on this study. Their art was literally their LIFE!

So yes, creating a sculpture would be nice, and I guess you would deserve a cookie for that nude statue of me that you have made (Furthermore you would get a good workout creating that sculpture).


The effing point here is that living a life of physical activity is still the way to go. So if you are lifting weights, treat it like an art. In martial arts, “do” means “way of life”, there is a reason for that.

Don’t treat your body as just a “body”; think of your body as a stone or a canvas that’s worthy of artistic endeavor. Even better since an artwork that’s done is done; no changes or improvements whatsoever; but your body will always have room for development no matter what your level is.

As it is today, your body is already an art. But imagine what it could be a couple of years from now if you continue to “live” that art?

The barbell is your hammer and the bar is your chisel. Learn how to use them well. And off course there will be no use for a canvas without paint and there would be no statue without stone – so you need to take in quality and real food to serve as the foundation for your art. Remember that gold bars come from nothing else but gold powder but trash begets nothing but trash so “real” home-cooked food is important.

Don’t simply “work out”; live the art and treat your body like a masterpiece. Be a sculptor to your own body and later in life you will certainly reap the benefits. We knew all along that lifting weights in itself increases lifespan, but now we learn that even artists live longer depending on their physical activity. Eat your eggs, people!

A-Lifter- Don't forget to leave your comment/feedback below.  If this article was helpful, I am sure our book Real Talk Muscle will help you even more in your quest for muscle gain. Check it out you can read the first few chapters as well.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
MUSCLES - Help you Survive a CAR CRASH
Why I don’t like the Term “Work Out” – The Difference between a Training and Working out
Find me on Google+ Ironthumb

Gain Access to Our Hardcore no BS Insider Lifting Updates and Newsletter NO CHARGE - these are worth THOUSANDS of $$dollars of PT package

* indicates required

One thought on “Muscle Sculptor Mondays – Old Time Sculptors Live Longer than Painters

Leave a Reply to Tobias Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.