Molecular mechanisms that concordantly regulate stress, life span, and aging remain incompletely understood. Here, we demonstrate that in Drosophila, a p38 MAP kinase (p38K)/Mef2/MnSOD pathway is a coregulator of stress and life span. Hence, overexpression of p38K extends life span in a MnSOD-dependent manner, whereas inhibition of p38K causes early lethality and precipitates age-related motor dysfunction and stress sensitivity, that is rescued through muscle-restricted (but not neuronal) add-back of p38K. Additionally, mutations in p38K are associated with increased protein carbonylation and Nrf2-dependent transcription, while adversely affecting metabolic response to hypoxia. Mechanistically, p38K modulates expression of the mitochondrial MnSOD enzyme through the transcription factor Mef2, and predictably, perturbations in MnSOD modify p38K-dependent phenotypes. Thus, our results uncover a muscle-restricted p38K-Mef2-MnSOD signaling module that influences life span and stress, distinct from the insulin/JNK/FOXO pathway. We propose that potentiating p38K might be instrumental in restoring the mitochondrial detoxification machinery and combating stress-induced aging.