Here's Exactly What Jane Fonda Does to Look So Young at 80

Jenae Sitzes
Photo credit: Getty Images

From Woman's Day

If there's one thing Jane Fonda believes in, it's not slowing down. The 80-year-old actress currently stars in the hit Netflix series Grace and Frankie, which was just renewed for a fifth season, and now she's on the big screen in the romantic comedy Book Club, starring alongside Diane Keaton, Candice Bergen, and Mary Steenburgen.

When it comes to health and fitness, Jane isn't calling it quits either. Her workout book and collection of workout DVDs were a sensation in the 1980s, and while her days of high-intensity aerobics, leotards, and leg warmers are now behind her, the fitness guru still maintains her healthy lifestyle.

Jane's health journey hasn't always been easy. She's been open about her struggles with poor body image and bulimia, which was a battle for her from puberty through her 40s, and she recently revealed she had a cancerous growth removed from her lip. Like many other celebrities, she's faced scrutiny for plastic surgery she's had on her jawline and under-eyes, procedures she says were "minimal" but bought her "an additional 10 years of professional work" as an actress. But these days, Jane is pretty content with being an octogenarian and isn't letting age hold her back from living her best life.

"I have a fake hip, a fake knee, and I've had a number of back surgeries, so I'm sort of half-metal and half-bionic now. I have osteoarthritis and getting in and out of a car is a challenge. But I feel lucky that I did a lot of fitness work earlier in my life because it means I'm stronger now," she told the Daily Mail in 2016.

Photo credit: Getty Images

So what exactly is Jane doing to stay strong and healthy in her 80s?

For starters, she still works out.

Jane takes a long walk every day, and she's become a fan of resistance training, yoga, and cross-country skiing. "I'm never going to stop. The most important thing is to keep moving, to stay active. That's what I do and that's how to stay strong," she told the Daily Mail.

Too many people give up on exercise at a certain point, she says. "The mistake that so many people make is that if they can't do what they once did, then they don't do anything. Big mistake," she said. "We can allow our various infirmities to define us or we can say to ourselves, 'I want to stay independent as long as possible. I want to be able to sit on the floor and play with my grandchildren. I want to carry at least some of my own luggage and not take 15 minutes to get out of a car.'"

But she's adjusted her workouts to be age-appropriate.

"There are a lot of things that I can’t do that I used to do. So I do things that are safer when you're older,” she told Healthy Living. "I walk. I lift lighter weights. I move more slowly. But keep moving. Keeping your body active is absolutely critical. If you're in a wheelchair, move your arms."

She believes in long-term lifestyle changes, not diets.

"Most diets focus on weight loss on the scale, and they enforce temporary (and often unhealthy) restrictive behavior. Unfortunately, this scenario sets us up to fail," Jane explained in a video for BeFit. Instead, Jane recommends tossing out the scale (she doesn't own one herself) and shifting your entire lifestyle to be health-conscious, which includes finding health-minded friends, setting a regular workout routine, starting your day with a nutritious breakfast - and allowing yourself to indulge in a piece of chocolate every once in a while.

She prefers to keep busy rather than retire.

Many people retire by their 60s, but at 80, Jane isn't ready to call it quits. "I needed a steady job. It's hard to be an older actor and be in regular work – people forget this is how we earn our living," she told the Daily Mail. "I support other people besides myself and I need to bring in money. Plus, it's fun. I never would have thought that at my age I could say I've been working too hard to spend time pampering myself, but I'm happy to say that's the case.’

She doesn't take her energy for granted, though. "If you had told me when I was 20 or 30 that I would still be acting at 80 on a show like [Grace and Frankie], I would have said, 'You're out of your mind.' I didn't think I'd live this long," she recently told Ellen DeGeneres. "Every day I get up and I want to pinch myself. I feel very blessed."

Her most important lesson for aging gracefully?

Don't try to be perfect: "It's a losing battle and you'll just be unhappy," Jane told Healthy Living. "Your anxiety will drive you to do things like eat too much or drink too much or whatever."

Instead, funnel your energy into introspection and seek meaningful relationships with others. "I meditate for 45 minutes to an hour every day. That keeps me calm and grounded," she said. "Trying to be intentional about how we live, staying interested, staying curious, paying attention to young people, cultivating young friends - these kinds of things are, I think, important to staying youthful."

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