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7 Fitness Tips From Olympian Dara Torres

Swimmer Dara Torres is one woman who's inspired me to stay active and healthy for years to come. At 41, she won three silver medals swimming in Beijing, so she's living proof that you only get fitter with age. Here are some tips from a Self magazine exclusive interview with Dara Torres, to help you stay healthy as you age.

  1. Set a fun fitness goal. Dara says, "Even if you don't quite believe in yourself yet, if you set a goal that's not too tough to reach, then meet it, that will motivate you to set another one and continue that cycle."
  2. Triple your warmup time. Instead of the recommended five minutes of warming up, Dara does at least 15. She says it "helps prevent aches" and make her feel "as spry as she did when she was 17." Warming up gives your muscles a chance to ease into your workout, which will reduce your chance of sustaining an injury. The longer you warm up, the better.

There are five more tips, so keep reading.

  1. Don't wait to start lifting. Strength training tones your muscles, but it also gives you energy and prevents osteoporosis. Here's one of Dara's favorite moves: "Lie facedown on a stability ball, holding a 3-pound dumbbell in each hand, arms extended, and draw the alphabet in the air. It helps pull your shoulders back by working the muscles between your shoulder blades." If you need more strengthening moves, check out these exercises.
  2. Pump up the jam. "Research shows that music can distract you from fatigue and help you go longer and harder." Some songs on Dara's playlist include "Crazy Train" by Ozzy Osbourne, "Back in Black" by AC/DC, and "Immigrant Song" by Led Zeppelin. Surprised?
  3. Try resistance stretches. Dara wants to keep the muscle mass she has, so three times a week she does resistance stretching. Unlike regular stretching, it simultaneously increases both flexibility and strength in your muscles. The yoga pose Standing Head to Big Toe A is an example of this type of stretching.
  4. Take breaks. Dara says, "I don't always try to work through pain anymore. I allow my body to recover by taking the entire day off, and then I feel ready for the next workout."
  5. Stop the rewind. "I know my body can't do what it did 10 years ago. I try not to let that dominate my thoughts. You have to do what's best for you in the moment. Otherwise, you tend to overexert yourself, and that's not good either."

Image Source: Getty
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