Muscling in on a longer life

older people lifting weightsWant to reduce your risk of dying? Try building up your muscle. According to researchers publishing in the American Journal of Medicine, the more muscle older folks have, the lower the risk of death. The study involved data from more than 3,600 men (55 and older) and women, (65 and older), who were taking part in the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey from 1988 to 1994 and underwent testing to determine the amount of muscle in relation to height (muscle mass index). In their 2004 follow-up survey, they discovered those with the highest levels of muscle mass were significantly less likely to die during the follow-up period than those with the least amount of muscle mass. The findings, while not proving a cause-and-effect relationship, make a case for using overall body composition when trying to predict all-cause death, rather than body mass index (BMI), which is a calculation of body fat based on a person’s height and weight. More research is needed into the best way of improving muscle mass in older adults.