By Dr. Brian McDonough, Medical Editor

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Do you want to stay out of the hospital? Maybe you should exercise more often.

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Older adults who have low muscle density are at higher risk of being hospitalized. Measuring how much fat compared to lean tissue there is in the thigh muscle is the most accurate gauge of a person’s risk of hospitalization.

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According to a major study on the issue, the relative risk for hospitalizations was 50% higher for those with less dense muscle mass. Researchers followed over 3,000 non-disabled adults between the ages of 70 and 80 for about five years each.

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This is particularly important as people age. The simple intervention of physical exercise could keep more seniors out of the hospital. It’s interesting work that could have a lot to do with overall care.