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The 12-Minute Exercise That Keeps Helen Mirren Fit at 73

Staying fit is important at every age, but that can obviously become more difficult as we get older. Maintaining a healthy diet is only half the battle — we also have to make sure we’re moving our bodies and stretching our muscles rather than sinking into an all-too-tempting sedentary lifestyle. Luckily, there are plenty of simple, easy methods to accomplish that —you might want to follow in Dame Helen Mirren’s footsteps. At 73, there’s no denying that she has kept herself in incredible shape. According to an interview with Hello! magazine back in 2014, she has the Royal Canadian Air Force to thank for that. 

Don’t worry, the military roots of Mirren’s exercise routine don’t mean it’s a rigorous test of strength. In fact, it only takes 12 minutes to complete the series of movements, and you don’t even need any equipment. “It is the exercise I have done off and on my whole life,” she explained, “It just very gently gets you fit. Two weeks of doing it and you think, ‘Yeah, I could go to the gym now.’” The workout was created back in the 1950s to keep new Airmen and those assigned to desk duty at a basic level of fitness. Prince Philip and Prince Charles are said to follow the same routine as Mirren, and rumor has it that Prince William and wife Kate are also fans. There has been no word on whether Queen Elizabeth (whom Mirren portrayed in an Oscar-winning role back in 2007) joins in on the exercises, but we’d like to imagine she’s given them a shot at some point.

Known as the Five Basic Exercises (5BX), the routine involves repeating stretches like toe touches, knee raises, and other bends followed by the five basic exercises: partial sit-ups, raising the chest and leg raises, side leg raising, push-ups, and running and hopping. Take a look at this video from 1959, which outlines the correct ways to do each stretch and exercise: 

We might not all be as brawny as the men showcased in the vintage video, but the 5BX routine does seem easy enough for anyone to try for themselves. Hey, if it helps us look as good as Helen after seven decades, we’re willing to give it a shot!

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