Growing up I danced along to her videos while my mom worked out, learning how to squeeze and breath in all the right ways. Some 20 years later Jane Fonda is still making her mark on women, this time with her new book Prime Time. With the message that midlife and beyond can be your most fulfilling, I finished Jane’s book with a new appreciation of age. If we look half as good as she does at 74 we’ll be happy!
Here are a few of Jane’s best lessons on how to age successfully.
1. It’s never too late to change. Jane lists 11 things you should and shouldn’t do (smoking, excessive drinking, not getting enough sleep) in order to age successfully. And though at one time we’ve all likely been guilty of a few, the important message is that it’s never too late to stop. Heck, she made changes at 60 and is still reaping the rewards.
2. Schedule downtime. It’s no secret we’re all busy. We schedule lunch meetings, brunch with friends and play dates for our kids, but rarely do we pencil ourselves in. Be disciplined in your alone time (whether it’s a bath, pedicure or hike doesn’t matter) and don’t cancel on yourself – as you age you’re going to need to know this person.
3. Exercise your brain. If you thought doing Sudoku on the subway was keeping your brain healthy think again. Cardio is one of the best things you can do to maintain brain health regardless of age. And though fitness aids brain function, when combined with learning new things (like an instrument or new sport) it’s a sure way to remain brain fit.
4. Eat healthy. Seems simple enough but you’d be surprised how many of us have unhealthy diets. Spend money on fresh fruits and veggies instead of cheap food that lasts longer, “Get out of your head and into your body” Jane encourages. Your body is only going to bounce back from abuse for so long.
5. Eat by colour. Have a mental colour wheel with you every day: red, blue/purple, yellow/orange, green and white. Try to consume four to five of these colours per day for a well-balanced and beneficial diet.
6. Say goodbye to salt. Aim for less than 1,500 mg a day. Don’t add salt to food and start paying attention to labels. Too much sodium causes high blood pressure and water retention and can lead to heart attack and stroke, which is the number one killer of women in Canada.
7. Learn to miss exercise. If you start to crave exercise it’s a good thing. Getting to a point where you don’t feel ‘right’ without exercise is a way of ensuring you stick with it – your whole life. The level of fitness will surely change depending on the stages, but it’s the initial movement you’re after.
8. Have sex. With age our libidos tend to dip. Jane encourages women to embrace sex and eroticism as a way to stay in tune with our self-confidence and self-awareness. Sexual pleasure, whether alone or with a partner, reduces the risk of depression, arthritis and stress as well as boosts the immune system.
9. Take Control. Like in martial arts, where you guide things instead of opposing them, with age comes the ability to accept what comes your way and deal with it better. Research shows older people actually suffer less from anxiety and depression thanks to these skills.
10. Exercise here and there. We’ve read the countless articles on how bad our sedentary lives are for us. In light of standing all day, Jane suggests sneaking in walks when you can. Take the stairs, walk around the office, go for a walk after dinner…longevity comes from all these choices added up.