Chopping Wood a Manlier Feel than Sports

Researchers found it significantly increases testosterone levels, even more so than competitive activities.

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Chopping wood increases testosterone production by over 40%

Being a lumberjack has long been considered among the “manliest” of professions, but now there may be scientific proof to back it up.

Researchers from the University of California, Santa Barbara have discovered that chopping wood significantly increases testosterone levels, even more so than competitive activities.

Scientists have known for a while that competitive exercise, like sports, tend to increase how much testosterone the body releases. The study, published in Evolution & Human Behavior, sought to determine how non-competitive exercise — like food production — compared. In order to do so, researchers tested the testosterone levels of the indigenous Tsimane people in central Bolivia before and after they cut down trees. Their results showed a 46.8 percent increase in testosterone levels following the wood cutting, a full 17 percent higher than the testosterone bump caused by playing soccer.

(MORE: The Axemen Cometh: Scenes From the Lumberjack World Championships 2013)

The paper’s lead author Ben Trumble explained why testosterone is created during tree cutting. “If you’re better able to pull blood sugar into your muscle tissue, and better able to use that energy, you’ll be able to chop more trees,” Trumble in a statement. This is especially important for the Tsimane, who can’t just go to the supermarket and buy food.

This might explain why his team also found that, while the Tsimane tend to have lower testosterone levels than those in first world countries, they retain the ability to to produce testosterone spikes longer than their developed-nation counterparts.

“If you’re a 50-year-old Tsimane man, for example, you probably have six or more children, and you need to be able to feed them,” explained Trumble. If you lose the ability to have the acute spikes in testosterone that increase your ability to chop trees — chop longer and chop harder — that would be detrimental to feeding your family.”

Even if your life doesn’t depend on cutting wood, you can  still benefit from Trumble’s research. According to fitness expert Ben Greenfield, testosterone also helps increase lean muscle mass and bone density, and can help ward off conditions like depression and osteoporosis. Don’t worry if no trees are handy, studies have shown that weight lifting can also increase testosterone production, and Greenfield has his own list of six other ways to boost your testosterone levels.

And despite testosterone being commonly associated with males (who have a much higher quantity of the hormone), women aren’t left out either. Females receive the same benefits from testosterone spikes, and Trumble believes he would have sees the same boosts in women if they had been included in his test.

“While we didn’t measure the testosterone of women in this study, women can also produce short-term spikes,” he said. “[This] suggests the importance of acute rises in testosterone not only for competition over mates, but also for critical daily tasks such as food production.”

44 comments
Artco77
Artco77

@d_seaman And that should increase swelling of the prostate in later years along with premature bald and poster man for prostate.

2pogi4u
2pogi4u

@TIME Winter's just around the corner, north of the 49..hehe :)

mrwassman
mrwassman

I was stoked on this article because I understand activities like this are important to do. Unfortunately it doesn't show that they tested levels on the same people doing different activities. Why not test the same dude: Digging a ditch, chopping wood, playing soccer, playing video games, etc.? Cool nonetheless but sad to see such a small pool of data on what could be an easily conductible set of experiments.

mspeir
mspeir

I've chopped wood before.  Just sayin'....

probative
probative

@TIMENewsFeed Well then that explains everything, doesn't it? Bring back the wood heating ... PRONTO <-- said hetero women everywhere. :)

cdherz44
cdherz44

I agree.   I have heated my home with wood for the last 30 years.  I attribute my long life and good health to this form of exercise.

nocookienoglory
nocookienoglory

@LiliGuiraud Là, la barre est haut placée. Je pourrai ajouter que j'ai fait un job d'été s'apparentant à bûcheron. Conclue ce que tu veux :p

LiliGuiraud
LiliGuiraud

@nocookienoglory oui oui je vais avoir besoin de tes résultats, c'est pour une étude scientifique très sérieuse tout ça!

nocookienoglory
nocookienoglory

@LiliGuiraud Succès garanti... Reste à savoir auprès de qui. Mais bon, je te fais confiance, et je t'informerai du résultat.

nocookienoglory
nocookienoglory

@LiliGuiraud Pour tenter d'améliorer mon taux de virilité, je vais me promener avec une hache sur l'épaule et abattre des réverbères.

LiliGuiraud
LiliGuiraud

@nocookienoglory je dirais donc que tu es semi-viril (vu que c'était un job d'été et que visiblement cette chemise est très peu portée)

nocookienoglory
nocookienoglory

@LiliGuiraud Je crois que j'ai une chemise à carreau, quelque part dans un placard. Mais est-ce assez pour faire de moi un vrai bucheron...

nocookienoglory
nocookienoglory

@LiliGuiraud Même pas... Nos chers scientifiques ont dû faire une erreur dans leurs équations, je ne vois que ça. J'hésite à leur signaler.