Advice on how to age well and achieve healthy longevity
Anyone who saw Jane Fonda present the award for Best Actor at the Academy Awards earlier this year will agree she looks fabulous for her age. If you missed the award show, you can catch her with Lily Tomlin on the Netflix series called “Grace and Frankie” to see what we mean. This Oscar-winning actress and activist looks terrific for an 80-year old, and I’d say she clocks at least 20 years younger.
Yes, some cosmetic surgery was involved but, as she’ll admit, it was worth it (and she didn’t have it done until she was 72). 1 And yes, perhaps it’s because, as those of us of a certain age will recall, she was one of the first female aerobics legends with exercise videos (first released in 1982), colorful leotards and leg warmers. She has been staying fit and eating well for decades and has long been an advocate for a healthy body and healthy mind. None of this hurts; in fact, it all helps.
Today, Fonda still emphasizes the importance of maintaining a good diet and exercise regime as the main vehicles for aging well because they affect a lot more than just your waistline. “The truest, most reliable beauty potion is regular vigorous exercises combined with good nutrition…. Exercise increases the circulation and brings a rich flow of nutrients and oxygen through the blood to the skin’s cells…During a workout, the skin’s temperature can rise from 86 to 90 degrees or more. This is thought to stimulate an increase in the production of collagen, which, together with other positive effects of exercise, thickens the skin – making it firmer, less wrinkled and better toned.” 1
Diet and Exercise for Healthy Longevity
Jane says exercising her mind and body on a regular basis helps. “Maintaining a healthy weight and strong heart and bones through regular physical exercise is a major ingredient for successful aging.” 2 In other words: never stop moving. Despite having osteoarthritis and having both a knee and hip replacement, she stays active and keeps moving – moving more slowly perhaps, than when she was younger, but moving. She still works out. She doesn’t run, but she walks. She doesn’t downhill ski, but she cross-country skis and does yoga.
She also adheres to the familiar phrase “you are what you eat”. An entire chapter in her best-selling book Prime Time focuses on the importance of diet and nutrition. Her key suggestions: avoid refined sugars and excess sodium, try complex carbs, colorful vegetables and lean meats. Cells regenerate at a slower rate as we age so everything we eat is important.
Oh, and don’t even think about smoking or drinking too much alcohol and make sure you get plenty of sleep. It’s never too late to cut bad habits; Jane claims she didn’t start cleaning up her act until she was in her 60’s.
In addition to diet and exercise, Jane Fonda has plenty of other advice to offer regarding aging gracefully, living better and having fun, even in your 70’s and 80’s. Implement one of these tips into your life and you’re on your way to achieving healthy longevity.
Jane’s Tips for Aging Well
- Check your outlook on aging. Revise how you think about aging. Think of aging like climbing a staircase. In an interview with Forbes magazine when she was only 73, Jane opined that “We need to reverse how we think about aging. The old paradigm was: you’re born, you peak at mid-life and then you decline…” 3 Look at aging as ascending, not descending a staircase, she suggests, and gaining well-being, spirit, soul, wisdom and the ability to be truly intimate and live a life of intention.
- Reflect on where you came from, learn, let go, move on.
- Let go of perfectionism; don’t worry about what people think. Like who you are.
- Foster relationships. Fonda believes strong interpersonal relationships are a key to remaining youthful. She notes that studies have shown that feeling connected to family and friends and romantic partners can help boost your health and happiness. 2
Jane’s Advice to Women
- Own your own power. Don’t feel you can’t exist without a man defining you. Be independent and strong but also don’t overlook your sex life. Jane says older women with active sex lives are healthier, happier and respond better to aging, and there’s science to back it up. Embrace love at every age.
- Do keep up your appearance; it means you still care about yourself. Take good care of your hair as well as your skin and dress with intention. An attractive, well-kept appearance doesn’t have to involve cosmetic surgery or expensive face creams. You don’t have to be wrinkle free to be beautiful. But you do have to like yourself and have a positive attitude.
A positive attitude makes all the difference: youth starts from within. As Jane says: “With age, two-thirds has to do with spirit, your soul…I’m way happier now, and I’m way younger now…The ‘good old days’ were pretty bad for me. The real good old days are now.”2