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One more great reason to start strength training now: Older adults with more muscle mass live longer, according to a 2014 UCLA report published in the American Journal of Medicine.

Researchers looked at data from 3,600 men aged 55 or older and women aged 65 or older, tracking survival rates over a decade. Across the board, those with greater muscle mass — regardless of their body mass index (BMI) — were less likely to die prematurely from nonnatural causes.

For older people, ample muscle mass appears to be even more important than low fat mass, says professor Arun Karlamangla, PhD.

Participants’ muscle mass was measured by a small electrical current sent through the body, then normalized to height, similar to BMI scoring. The study found that a higher-than-average muscle mass index was linked to longer life.

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