Jane Fonda On the Importance of Staying Strong as You Age

"I thank the goddesses that I have strong thighs," the 84-year-old actress and activist said in a recent interview.

Jane Fonda
Photo: Getty Images

Jane Fonda has been a fitness icon for decades, bringing exercise into people's homes since the 1980s with her famous VHS tapes (remember those?). Ahead of her 85th birthday later this year, the actress and activist shared why she's so thankful for how strong and flexible she still feels, along with a message to young people, in a new interview with Vogue.

"I want young people to stop being afraid about getting older," Fonda told the magazine. "What matters isn't age, isn't that chronological number. What matters is your health," she said. This sentiment rings even more true now, as Fonda opened up about her Non-Hodgkins lymphoma diagnosis in September 2022. She's still exercising and feeling strong since starting chemo, wrote Fonda in a blog post.

Prioritizing movement throughout her life — she did ballet and aerobics in her younger years and focuses on less intense exercises nowadays — has helped her maintain her health, she explained in the recent interview. And it's something she hopes inspires her fanbase, which spans multiple generations and age brackets.

"I know better than I did even when I was younger that no matter how old you are or who you are or where you are, keeping moving in a way that's appropriate for your age is absolutely critical to your healthy lifespan," she shared. For Fonda, that means changing up her fitness routine as needed. "My motto now is not for the burn. It's slow down," she told Vogue.

Fonda's version of slowing down recently included long, early morning walks before working on the set of Book Club 2: The Next Chapter in Italy. And it isn't something she takes for granted. "I didn't realize when I was young," she explained, adding that "the young never realize how important it is to keep your body strong because there's nothing wrong with them," she said. "Their body works. They take it for granted. As you get older, you realize the importance of it."

Now, she's aware of and thankful for her strength and flexibility in every day activities. "I mean, every day when I get out of a car, I thank the goddesses that I have strong thighs, that I've worked out to keep strong thighs," she continued. "When I'm backing a car up and I have to look over my shoulder, I'm thankful that I've kept flexible and I can turn my head and it doesn't hurt. Just basic things like that you take for granted when you're younger but can't do anymore when you're older unless you have remained strong and flexible."

Along with staying active, Fonda maintains other healthy habits, specifically when it comes to sleep and nutrition, she shared with Vogue. "I sleep eight or nine hours every night. I eat a fairly healthy diet," she said, adding that she's "not rigid" when it comes to her diet. "I have cut way back on red meat. I've cut back on fish because fish supplies are dwindling. I eat vegetables. I eat salads. I eat fresh food."

To sum it all up, she concluded: "I stay moisturized, I sleep, I move, I stay out of the sun, and I have good friends who make me laugh. Laughter is a good thing too." (While you're here: Read more about Fonda's refreshing perspective on aging.)

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