Well into her 70s, two-time Academy Award winner Jane Fonda continues to turn heads as one of the world’s most beautiful women. And many continue to look to her for advice on fitness and aging gracefully—both arts she’s perfected. In Prime Time, the latest addition to Fonda’s lengthy list of accomplishments, she shares the wisdom she’s picked up throughout her eight decades in the spotlight.
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Here, the anti-war activist and workout pioneer breaks new ground, yet again, in providing a model for a new generation as she and other baby boomers deal with extended life expectancy. “In society’s terms I may be seen as ‘over the hill,’ but I’ve discovered a new, different, challenging landscape on the other side—a landscape filled with new depths of love, new ways of interacting with friends and strangers, new ways of expressing myself and facing setbacks, and by the way, more hills…literally,” she writes. May we all face the road ahead with such aplomb.
And now Fonda’s “Eleven Ingredients for Successful Aging.”
1. Do not abuse alcohol. “Never having abused alcohol is considered by some gerontologists to be the single highest predictor of successful aging.”
2. Do not smoke. “Never having smoked or stopping at a relatively young age is another major predictor of healthy aging.”
3. Get enough sleep. “Deep sleep is important throughout the life span, but it is essential when we are older…This is important for the restoration of our body’s tissues, especially the tissues of the heart.”
4. Be physically active. “Even if you first start to incorporate exercise into your life after age sixty, you can reverse many of the problems associated with inactivity and you will feel so much better.”
5. Eat a healthy diet. “Now more than ever, you are what you eat.”
6. Maintain a healthy, active brain through learning. “To maintain healthy cognitive function, we need to do things we aren’t accustomed to doing—things that make new demands on our minds, force us to make decisions or choices.”
7. Encourage a positive attitude. “By smiling, you actually change the pattern of information going from the muscles in your body—in this case, the muscles around your mouth and yes—to your brain. This has a big impact on health and well-being, both short-term and longer-term.”
8. Review and reflect upon your life. “Gather all that you have done, have been, all that you have had—things on the outside and internal things—to claim them, gather them all together into your center so as to possess who you are.”
9. Love and stay connected. “Humans are hardwired to interact with others. Having friends, loving partners, and strong social supports have long been demonstrated to have a direct positive effect on health, better cognitive functioning and longevity.”
10. Give of oneself. “This can men mentoring a child, being a coach, reading to your grandchild’s class…or helping girls and boys in your community or in the developing world.”
11. Care about the bigger picture. “Moving from a focus on oneself to caring about things greater than oneself makes us whole and strong so we won’t be overwhelmed by the inevitable losses that come later in life.”
(Ed note: All quoted material from advance galley may differ slightly in final book.)