So honored to have met amazing 64 year old marathon swimmer Diana Nyad at the Rose Bowl Aquatics Center, where I swim every week! Her incredible feat of swimming from Cuba to the Florida keys is an accomplishment that proves once again that our bodies–against popular beliefs–are ready to do whatever our minds decide they are capable of doing. Such an inspiration for women my age and beyond!!!
Lately I’ve been watching closely how women my age and beyond are staying active and some of them, amazingly young-looking and vibrantly healthy and energetic. I saw a picture of Raquel Welch recently, who at 72 looked hotter in a leopard printed dress than Heidi Klum, who wore the same one. I’ve seen pictures of 79 year old Sophia Loren, who looks really stunning and still sexy. And of course, there is exercise guru Jane Fonda, who has been able to keep her body youthful and strong at 76, and recently released some of her secrets on a yoga DVD for women in their “prime time.” It seems that, as women who take care of themselves approach their seventh decade, they are pushing back the expected prime age for women way beyond the 50s.
Fonda confesses that as she was researching for her last book, titled Prime Time, she found in many of her sources that “staying physically active is just about the #1 factor in whether you have a good Third Act or not.” As we age, exercise keeps us healthy; she further asserts, “[a]ctivity strengthens the heart and bones, improves circulation, reduces obesity, thickens the skin and can help with depression because of the endorphins released into the system. Endorphins are brain chemicals that give relief from pain, enhance the immune system, reduce stress and bring us a sense of well-being.”
Another amazing icon mentioned above who has aged divinely is 60’s bombshell Sophia Loren, who, at her prime age of 79, believes firmly in the power of the mind to stay youthful “There IS a Fountain of Youth. It is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of the people you love. When you learn to tap this source, you will truly have defeated age,” she affirms.
Exercise may be the closest thing to the Fountain of Youth. Not only does regular activity strengthen your muscles and improve heart and lung function, but it can also reduce your risk of major diseases, stimulate the growth of new brain cells, and even add years to your life. Studies show just 30 minutes of physical activity on most days is all that’s required to reap big benefits.
The range of health bonuses now attributed to exercise has surprised even doctors. Research suggests that workouts may do the following:
- Keep you young. Workouts such as brisk walking or cycling boost the amount of oxygen consumed during exercise. Improving your aerobic capacity by just 15 to 25 percent would be like shaving 10 to 20 years off your age. Aerobic exercise may also stimulate the growth of new brain cells in older adults.
- Reduce infections. Moderate workouts temporarily rev-up the immune system by increasing the aggressiveness or capacity of immune cells. That may explain why people who exercise catch fewer colds.
- Prevent heart attacks. Not only does exercise raise “good” HDL cholesterol and lower blood pressure, but new research shows it reduces arterial inflammation, another risk factor for heart attacks and strokes.
- Ease asthma. New evidence shows that upper-body and breathing exercises can reduce the need to use an inhaler in mild cases of asthma.
- Control blood sugar. Exercise helps maintain a healthy blood-sugar level by increasing the cells’ sensitivity to insulin and by controlling weight. Regular brisk walking can significantly cut the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
- Protect against cancer. Exercise may reduce the risk of colon-cancer by speeding waste through the gut and lowering the insulin level. It may also protect against breast and prostate cancer by regulating hormone levels.
- Combat stress. Regular aerobic exercise lowers levels of stress hormones. For many people, exercise helps relieve depression as effectively as antidepressant medication.
- Relieve hot flashes. Increasing fitness by walking or practicing yoga enhances mood and reduces some menopausal symptoms, such as hot flashes and night sweats.
- Protect men’s health. Pelvic exercises help prevent erectile dysfunction and possibly benign prostate enlargement, a common cause of urinary problems.
- Prolong life. Studies lasting many years have consistently shown that being active cuts the risk of premature death by about 50 percent for men and women.
So, what are you waiting for? Get off the computer, and go out to play!
But please stay tuned! Coming up a special empowerment workshop for women in their prime Life is not over at 50, ladies! More info coming up soon!
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