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At 91, Rita Moreno Is Healthier Than Women Half Her Age — Here’s How She Does It (Exclusive Interview)

How Rita remains so radiant

Rita Moreno is as on-the-go as the Energizer Bunny, and if her lineup of upcoming projects is any indication, the 91-year-old West Side Story star has no plans to slow down anytime soon. “My career is going through a renaissance!” Rita beams. “I am happy and very grateful.” One of only four actresses to earn EGOT status by winning an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony, Rita Moreno is here to share her tips for living life to the fullest and staying healthy at any age.

Speaking to FIRST For Women, it’s clear that gratitude has fueled Rita’s storied career, which is chronicled in the Netflix documentary, Just a Girl Who Decided to Go for It. And as the Puerto Rico native reminisces about her triple-threat status as an actress, singer, and dancer, she says she couldn’t feel luckier. “I had a hard time when I moved to the United States, but my life did an amazing turnaround,” Rita says. “It’s sink or swim in life, and I keep deciding to swim!” Here, Rita’s advice for looking great, feeling your best, and persevering — come what may.

Related: Rita Moreno: 10 Rare Photos of the Trailblazing Star’s Life and 70-year Career

Fountain of Youth: Daily ‘Brain Teasers’

“I exercise my brain in every way I can,” Rita shares. “It’s important for me since I’m having trouble remembering nouns and names now, but I’ve found ways to deal with it. For example, I learned to write with my left hand, which is a real exercise since I am right-handed. I also walk backward. You’re challenging your brain to deal with something very, very different — and I believe that keeps it healthy and young!” Bonus: Just 25 minutes of doing puzzles or playing games a day can release enough dopamine to boost memory, concentration, and even increase IQ.

Radiance Secret: A Magical Moisturizer

“The only thing I use on my skin is Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Moisturizer, which has sunscreen in it,” Moreno says (Buy on Amazon, $49.98). “For my body, I use Eucerin Intensive Repair Lotion for very dry, flaky skin. It works and is so affordable” (Buy on Amazon, $11.77).

Boost Energy: Musical Movement

“One of my favorite ways to exercise is to put on my favorite music — I particularly like marches — and conduct as if I were in front of a symphony,” Rita says. “I don’t know if you’ve ever noticed how sweaty a conductor gets and how worn-out they are after a concert. It’s because they use their entire upper body. They are not just swinging their arms — they are using their lungs and their upper torso. Even sitting down, you will find that you get out of breath if you do it right. But it’s fun work because it’s like you are conducting music that you love.”

Cut Cravings: Hydrating Snacks

“I hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!” Rita says of her greatest health secret. “I have glasses of water all over my house, on tables, side tables, on the counters. Watermelon is great for that too, because it gives you lots of water and keeps you full. Really, any fresh fruit is always good — it tastes great and makes you feel great.” Why? Naturally occurring electrolytes found in some fruit, like potassium, help usher water into your body’s cells faster, contributing to better hydration, joint lubrication, and even better sleep.

Stress RX: Laughter

“Laughter is my favorite way to relieve stress,” Rita admits. “I love to laugh — it’s like my favorite hobby! I put on things that I think are hilarious and I sit there and I just laugh. I can’t do it by myself, so I get help from my favorite movies. All I have to do is look at Will Ferrell’s face, and I’m already on the floor. He is marvelous. But anything that makes you laugh is great because it will distract you eventually, even if you’re upset or angry.” Bonus: Experts say that laughter can ease pain and even strengthen your immune system.

Don’t Miss Rita’s New Film!

Rita’s acting career is as hot as ever, from her being slated to portray Vin Diesel’s grandmother in the next Fast & Furious movie to the new project she is particularly excited about: 80 for Brady, a movie which also stars Sally Field, Jane Fonda, and Lily Tomlin.

“It’s about four elder ladies who are real fans of football and Tom Brady,” Rita says of the movie, which hit theaters on February 3. “It’s a road trip movie. They decide that they want to go to the Super Bowl, and the movie is all about how they get there, how they get the tickets —which they cannot afford — and how they lose them. Tom Brady is the producer and he’s in two scenes. He is just gorgeous and was lovely to us, very nice. I couldn’t be more excited about it!”

For more on Rita Moreno:

Rita Moreno Shares Her Go-To Makeup Hack for Looking Younger — And Fabulous — at 90!

Exclusive: Rita Moreno Reveals 6 Pieces of Wisdom for Living a Purposeful Life

This article originally appeared in our print magazine, First For Women.

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