Keep the muscle on and keep on living. That’s the advice from researchers at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, who analyzed data collected by the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) III between 1988 and 1994. The researchers looked at the muscle mass index–the amount of muscle relative to height– of 3,659 men who were 55 or older and women who were 65 or older at the time of the survey, and in a followup in 2004, they learned how many had died from natural causes. The envelope please…the researchers found that all-cause mortality was significantly lower in the fourth quartile of muscle mass index compared with the first quartile. What does that mean? “In other words, the greater your muscle mass, the lower your risk of death,” said Dr. Arun Karlamangla, an associate professor in the geriatrics division at the Geffen School and the study’s co-author. “Thus, rather than worrying about weight or body mass index, we should be trying to maximize and maintain muscle mass.” Read more about the research from UCLA.