What do Superman, Batman and Spiderman all have in common? Among other things, each have that recognizable superhero physique, characterized by bulging biceps and tapered waist. New research suggests such proportions could contribute to longevity (if not the ability to leap tall buildings in a single bound).
Analyzing body measurements for over 4,000 men ages 60-79, British researchers found that those who had a waist smaller than 40" and bigger-than-average biceps had 65% lower odds of mortality during the 6-year study period. Bigger biceps improved longevity prospects even among those with wider waists: a 36% increased mortality risk vs. a 55% increased risk for those with smaller arms and big bellies. Men don't need to mimic Arnold's impressive 22" biceps at the peak of his career -- half that size yielded the biggest risk reduction in this study.
The takeaway: If you want a longer life, keep your girth in check and start strength training. Endless studies have documented the perils of abdominal fat, and the fact that men tend to store fat around the middle (as opposed to the lower body) may explain why in some aspects, obesity hits men harder than women. To minimize your midsection, aim for everyday activity, ban trans fats, manage stress levels, avoid binge drinking and opt for wine over beer. Weight lifting also helps whittle your waist, while increasing bicep size.