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97-year-old fitness expert shares ‘secret to living a healthy, youthful life’

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A 97-year-old fitness personality has shared 14 ways that could help you stay fit to 100.

Elaine LaLanne, also known as Lala, who will turn 98 in March, has been in the public eye for over 70 years, after she and her late husband, Jack LaLanne, revolutionised modern fitness in the 1950s and 1960s.

The pair highlighted the health benefits of regular exercise, good nutrition and a positive attitude for overall health.

Jack opened the first modern health club, known as Jack LaLanne’s Physical Culture Studio, in 1936, which became a prototype for dozens of similar gyms with his name. 

He was also the first person to have a national exercise TV show.

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Sadly, Jack died in 2011 at the age of 96, but Elaine had no intention of retiring. She wrote a book about Jack’s life, Pride & Discipline, and is currently busy developing both a documentary and a feature film.

The 97-year-old shared with Telegraph what she owes to her long, healthy life and energy to keep going.

She told the newspaper: “People ask me the secret to living a healthy, youthful life in your 90s. My answer is simple: Exercise is King. Nutrition is Queen. Put them together and you have a Kingdom.”

1. If you don’t move, you shrivel up

The fitness expert explained that you “speed up” the ageing process when you stop moving, making resistance training, body-weight exercises and sufficient protein intake a must. “In order to keep your mind active, you have to be active,” Elaine said.

2. Mix up your exercise

From stretches to golf and cleaning your hose to lifting weights, you should aim for both muscle-strengthening exercise and aerobic activity 20 minutes each day.

Elaine said: “Scientists have found that brain neurones – the special cells that perform all the necessary functions to keep you alive, as well as help you think and improve your memory – all increase after a few weeks of exercise.”

3. Keep your waist trim

The 97-year-old explained that the less fat you carry around, the more energy you have. “Every pound of excess weight puts a needless strain on the heart,” she added.

4. Don’t be bored. Or boring!

She also recommended always having something to do, someone to love and something to look forward to. “People don’t die of old age, they die of neglect and inactivity,” Elaine said.

5. Eat foods in their natural state

The fitness expert stressed the importance of eating fresh fruits and vegetables, while avoiding processed foods “as much as possible”.

6. Don’t diet

While fad diets come and go, the basis for physical fitness “remains constant”. “Eat right so you can’t go wrong,” Elaine said.

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7. Think young

When Elaine was 27 and started getting into exercise, she thought she was old. And now at 97 she said she feels young.

8. Think positive

To mark his 60th birthday, her husband swam to Alcatraz handcuffed, towing a 1,000-pound boat, but he said he always saw himself coming out of the water, Elaine shared.

9. Patience wins the race

The fitness expert explained that patience, time and relentlessness can all contribute to long life. 

“I tore all the tendons in my left knee 25 years ago, my kneecap fell into my leg, but I rehabilitated,” she said.

10. Have occasional treats

Elaine recommended treating your health like a bank account. She said: “You have to earn the right to enjoy an occasional cocktail or dessert.” 

As long as you enjoy everything in moderation, you can remain healthy.

11.Don’t neglect sleep

The 97-year-old explained it’s important to rest and sleep well even if you feel like you have a lot of energy.

12. Surround yourself with young people

Elaine explained that when her husband’s friends were passing on, Jack said it’s time to find younger friends. “So I think young and I act young,” she added.

13. Don’t waste time on regrets

The fitness expert recommended focusing on the “good” decisions you’ve made instead of the bad ones.

14. Your body is your most priceless possession

She added that you are “the priority”. “Out of the 1,440 minutes in the day, isn’t it wise to invest 8 minutes in yourself?” Elaine asked.

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