You may know her as America’s tennis sweetheart, or maybe as the former World No. 1 tennis player who won 18 Grand Slam singles championships and three doubles titles. But it’s not Chris Evert’s tennis stats that make her so inspirational.
At age 63, Evert is in better shape than most women half her age. She also leads an active lifestyle that keeps her healthy, fit, and on the court every single day. We had the opportunity to catch up with Evert to find out her tips for staying fit and feeling fabulous at any age. These are her best eight pieces of advice for aging women.
1. Exercise for your mind and soul, not your body.
The benefits of exercise extend far beyond the physical aspect for Evert, and that’s why she believes women need to approach exercise with the goal of strengthening their body and their mind. “I’ve been an athlete my whole life. Even after I retired from tennis, I just didn’t want to stop,” she explains. The physical foundation for exercise started when she was five years old. But it’s the mental and emotional aspect of exercise that she craves the most now. “The clearing of my head, being more alert, and the ability to feel alive, is what I get from exercise now,” she says. “For me (even today at 63 years old), I look at exercise as adding balance to my life.”
2. Participate in a variety of activities.
Evert credits the variety of activities she includes in her workouts for keeping her fit. “I have to do a mixture of activities and exercises to challenge my body,” she says. She mixes in cardio by playing tennis every morning, and she also does a lot of yoga and stretching. Another critical component in Evert’s fit lifestyle is strength training, which is so important for women. She takes a CrossFit class or does weights on her own.
3. Carve out 45 minutes each day.
“For me, 45 minutes to an hour of exercise each day is what I need to feel my best,” says Evert. That said, she does acknowledge that it takes quite a bit of discipline to stay focused. She also jokes about how half of the battle is just getting up in the morning and putting on the right workout clothes. But once she does, she feels so much better. Her recommendation to women of all levels and ages is to figure out what works best for you. Consider what time of day you feel your best. Also, when do you have the most time to do it? “The more you move your body, the better off you will be,” says Evert.
4. If you don’t have 45 minutes, start with 15 minutes.
But if you can’t devote 45-minutes, Evert says to start with 15 minutes. “Go out and walk for 15 minutes, either in the morning or at the end of the day,” she recommends. “I think that women get overwhelmed because they think they have to go to the gym for an hour, sweat, and feel pain when it comes to working out — but really, you should start out slow.” Focus on stretching or doing bodyweight exercises when watching TV. “If you say you don’t have time, you can make the time.”
5. Focus on eating natural foods.
“You can’t be great at exercise and then eat potato chips the rest of the day,” says Evert, which is why she aims to eat the most natural foods she can. A typical day of eating for her starts with two poached eggs on toast with a cup of coffee before heading to the tennis academy to hit with the kids. Lunch is a turkey sandwich, some fruit and sometimes chips, which is her favorite “go to” meal for lunch. Dinner is often salmon or chicken, but occasionally she swaps that out for a filet. With her main course, she eats a salad or veggies and rice. “I try to stay away from sugar as much as I can, and I also drink a lot of water,” she says. “I have my glass of wine at night and my chocolate chip cookie. I’m not a 100-percent disciplined with diet like I am with my training and sleep.” While Evert believes in eating as natural and clean as possible, she also says you shouldn’t deprive yourself.
6. Sleep is critical to your overall health and ability to get and stay fit.
The one thing that plays a significant role in staying fit is sleep. Evert credits her active lifestyle for the restful sleep she gets each night. “When I was a kid, I would get 10 to 12 hours of sleep a day; my mom always talks about how I was never sick because of all the sleep,” says Evert. “Now, if I only get six or seven hours, I feel sluggish; but if I get eight hours, I feel great.”
7. Staying safe in the sun requires more than sunscreen.
Spending your entire life outdoors can take a toll on your skin. Evert says she always uses sunscreen with zinc; she also wears a hat and sunglasses anytime she’s outside. While most of us equate the danger of the sun with skin cancer, Evert has a different story to tell. “I had two cataracts in my eyes from the sun. That’s why I think people need to recognize that the sun is not only going to affect your skin, it will also affect your eyes.”
8. Take care of your body, because it’s the only one you have.
Even though Evert exercises daily, eats a balanced diet, and gets a lot of sleep, she still gets aches and pains in her body. Fortunately, she knows first-hand how important it is to keep moving in order to continue doing what she loves, like playing with students at the Evert Tennis Academy. That’s why she’s working with Osteo Bi-Flex to emphasize the importance of staying active. Evert’s been using the product for about a year and says it supports her joint flexibility and movement. Plus, it keeps her active, which is why she looks and feels so fabulous.
This post was written by Sara Lindberg.