80-Year-Old Jane Fonda Has Revealed Her Secret To Looking Far Younger Than Her Real Age

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Believe it or not, actor and activist Jane Fonda is 80 years old. She looks incredibly good for her age, though. So what’s her secret to staying so young-looking? Despite having had plastic surgery in the past, she speaks out against it now. These days she prefers simple, easy techniques to keep herself looking great. She’s talked about them in the press and you’ll marvel at how she utilizes them.

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The actor was a visible political activist in the counterculture era during the Vietnam War and later became involved in advocacy for women. In fact, Fonda was famously - and controversially - photographed sitting on a North Vietnamese anti-aircraft gun on a 1972 visit to Hanoi. As a result, she became widely known under the nickname “Hanoi Jane.”

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Fonda was hugely successful throughout the ‘70s and ‘80s. She starred in multiple hit films, including Klute, The China Syndrome, Coming Home and Fun with Dick and Jane. Even the controversy surrounding her anti-war activism didn’t dampen her ability to be a superstar.

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As well as movie success, during the ‘80s Fonda embarked on a new endeavour: creating exercise videos. But it was a phenomenon that almost never got off the ground. Initially, she began by writing a workout book, and it turned out that there was interest in making it into a video. Yet when Stuart Karl of Mid-Vid asked her to do it, she turned him down.

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“No one I knew even owned a VCR player. It was way too expensive. And there had never been a product that anyone wanted to use over and over that would justify spending that kind of money on the expensive hardware,” Fonda wrote on her website in 2012. “At first I said to Stuart, ‘No way, I’m an actor and it would be bad for my career.’”

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But eventually Fonda relented. She assumed it would be a flash-in-the-pan that wouldn’t take too much time out of her life. “No one had ever done a fitness video before. I remember writing the script on the floor of a hotel room during a Christmas skiing vacation in Calgary. It was spit and prayer, flying by the seat of our tights and leg warmers,” the actor recalled on her website.

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“I used some of my workout teachers and clients in the video with me. We rehearsed a few days, made some mistakes, did our own hair and makeup, had one camera and figured it was no big deal,” Fonda went on. But she was completely wrong. The workout videos became a massive success. The first one ended up being the best-selling VHS ever.

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Fonda went on to release 23 exercise videos and they sold by the millions. Gone were the star’s fears about no one owning a VCR. In reality, people bought them just so they’d get to watch her videos. “In spite of myself, this little workout video had given birth to a new industry,” the actor wrote on her website. “Women began to hear about it. Friends were telling each other, ‘Hey, check this out! This really works!’”

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In 1990, Fonda spoke to The Washington Post about her aim with the videos. “It’s not about how you look, it’s about how you feel,” she said. “I can do more with ease and grace now at 52 than I could when I was 20. I can ride my bike 60 miles, I can handle stress, I have good muscle tone. That’s what it’s about. Not about being thin but about being healthy.”

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Fonda wanted to improve her own mental, as well as physical, health via exercise. “I start with a cardiovascular workout. Studies show that one of the best ways to reduce stress is through aerobics,” she explained to The Washington Post. “For many people, aerobic exercise helps lower the amount of chemicals, such as adrenaline, which are released into the bloodstream in response to stress.”

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“I try to make sure people understand that there is no one way to get fit,” the actor went on. “You’ve got to find something you enjoy, that works for you, and do it regularly. And you don’t have to be fanatic to be effective. Staying active makes you feel good now and is a long-term investment in feeling good later.”

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That long-term investment certainly paid off. Indeed, Fonda is still acting now. After a period of retirement throughout the ‘90s and ‘00s, she bounced back the following decade. Since 2010 she’s appeared in Our Souls at Night, This Is Where I Leave You and The Butler among others.

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However, Fonda had a major health scare in 2010. That year, a small tumor was discovered in her breast during a checkup at the doctor. She had surgery to remove it. Even though that brush with cancer was luckily a fairly non-problematic one, it made the actor think hard about life and mortality.

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“I always said I’m not afraid of dying,” Fonda said on Oprah’s Next Chapter in 2013.” And I wasn’t. I mean, I felt, God, I’ve just joined a family of millions of women who have gone through this. And how interesting. What a journey this is going to be… You know, maybe I’ll make it and maybe I won’t. I didn’t get scared. I hope I don’t die. But I’m not scared of dying.”

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When Fonda released a new exercise tape in 2010, aged 72, it was with senior people in mind. As well as the cancer, she had also suffered with other medical problems over the years. Both her hip and knee had been replaced. So this workout was different from her others; more about maintaining skills in later years. “It’s about being the healthiest, not the most ripped,” the actor told The Washington Post that year.

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But Fonda still best known for her acting, not her workouts. These days, the Oscar-winner is one of the stars of Netflix show Grace and Frankie, opposite Lily Tomlin. It’s been a big success, earning multiple award nominations from both the Screen Actor’s Guild and Primetime Emmys. And she’s also continued her activism work, speaking out on issues including environmentalism, feminism and politics.

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Unfortunately, the problem of cancer is a recurring one for Fonda. In 2018, while promoting Grace and Frankie’s fourth season, the star attended a stage interview while wearing a dressing on her face. “I just want to explain the bandage. I just had a cancer taken from my lip,” she explained at a BUILD Series event in New York.

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Fonda is often asked about the plastic surgery she’s had, and sometimes she makes it clear she doesn’t want to discuss it. In a September 2017 episode of Today, Megyn Kelly asked her about going under the knife. The Oscar-winner, however, wasn’t having any of it. She replied, “We really want to talk about that now?” and changed the subject.

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The star spoke to Entertainment Tonight Canada later that day and said she wasn’t happy about being asked about her surgery. “It was a weird thing to bring up, whether I’ve had plastic surgery or not,” she said. “I have, and I’ve talked about it, but it just seemed like the wrong time and place to raise that question.”

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In September 2018 HBO aired a documentary about the star’s life, Jane Fonda in Five Acts. In it, she got candid about her past. “I’m glad that I look good for my age, but I’ve also had plastic surgery. I’m not going to lie about that,” she explained to the cameras. The actor then admitted to feeling some guilt about it.

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“On one level, I hate the fact that I’ve had the need to alter myself physically to feel that I’m okay,” Fonda explained. “I wish I wasn’t like that. I love older faces, I love lived-in faces.” She then singled out the face of Vanessa Redgrave, her co-star in the 1977 drama Julia, as a visage she particularly approved of.

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However, there’s a deep-seated reason for Fonda desiring plastic surgery in the first place. “I was raised in the ‘50s,” she told Harper’s Bazaar magazine in 2011. “I was taught by my father that how I looked was all that mattered, frankly. He was a good man, and I was mad for him, but he sent messages to me that fathers should not send: Unless you look perfect, you’re not going to be loved.”

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Fonda even fought an eating disorder for a while. “I wasn’t very happy from, I would say, puberty to 50? It took me a long time,” she told Harper’s Bazaar. “And if you suffer from bulimia, the older you get, the worse it gets. It takes longer to recover from a bout.” Luckily, however, the star was able to overcome it.

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However, Fonda’s young looks are not remotely all down to plastic surgery. She, not a surgeon, deserves the credit. Though the actor has a replacement knee and hip, (“I set off as many bells and whistles at an airport as I did on that runway!” she told Harper’s Bazaar) she still does plenty to keep herself healthy.

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The star credits her earlier workout videos with helping her prepare for her golden years. “I have a fake hip, a fake knee and I’ve had a number of back surgeries, so I’m sort of half-metal and half-bionic now,” Fonda told The Daily Mail in 2016. “I have osteoarthritis and getting in and out of a car is a challenge. But I feel lucky that I did a lot of fitness work earlier in my life because it means I’m stronger now.”

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“I still work out, although these days I do it slowly,” Fonda continued. The actor then went on to explain how she now takes things in small doses. “I don’t run, I walk. I don’t ski, I cross-country ski,” she said. “The most important thing is to keep moving, to stay active. That’s what I do and that’s how to stay strong.”

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In 2015, Fonda gave a detailed description to Healthy Living magazine about how she exercised. “I don’t do it the way I used to because an older body has to do things differently, slowly and more carefully and work more core muscles,” she said. She walked for about an hour every day, she explained, and did strength training.

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“The workout when you’re older has to be more functional. You have to be sure not to hurt yourself and I do. I work out and I’m pretty careful about what I eat,” Fonda continued. Healthy Living asked her what her diet consisted of. “I eat healthy - fresh food, minimal red meat. Low on carbs, but I eat carbs. I eat a lot of fresh fruit, vegetables, fish, chicken.”

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“The number one most important thing is to not smoke,” the Oscar-winner continued. As a young actress, Fonda did indeed chain-smoke. “Almost equally important is [to] keep moving. A lot of people tend, when they get older, because they can’t do what they used to do, they say, ‘Well then, why bother?’ Wrong in capital letters, wrong.”

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“There are a lot of things that I can’t do [now] that I used to do,” Fonda said. She can no longer run, or ride. “So I do things that are safer when you’re older. I walk, I lift lighter weights, I move more slowly. But keep moving. Keeping your body active is absolutely critical. If you’re in a wheelchair, move your arms,” she went on.

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Fonda also intends to help other people who are growing older. “One of the reasons that I did my new set of DVDs [and] workouts, is to address the issue of successful aging,” she told Healthy Living. “I wrote a book called Prime Time about how to age successfully. I realized how critical keeping physically active was.”

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In the same interview, the actor once again pondered her use of plastic surgery. “I’ve done it very, very minimally,” she said. “I wish that I hadn’t but, being an actor, how you look is critically important and I figure I probably bought myself an additional 10 years of professional work. Maybe five, I’m not sure.”

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“Just don’t overdo it,” was Fonda’s advice to other people who might be considering surgery. “If you’re going to do it, be sure you’re going to a good doctor and be sure that you don’t do too much. Don’t try to get rid of all the wrinkles. Learn to love your wrinkles. They’re part of who you are. They’re an expression of character.”

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“Don’t try to be perfect,” Fonda added. “It’s a losing battle and you’ll just be unhappy. Your anxiety will drive you to do things like eat too much, drink too much or whatever.” She then recommended meditation to help with that. “I meditate for 45 minutes to an hour every day. That keeps me calm and grounded.”

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Fonda herself isn’t perfect. She even drinks, a little. In a 2018 interview with Today she talked about that. “I do [drink],” she told the interviewer. “But I used to drink too much. I don’t drink too much anymore because, you know, I’m 80. I only have so many mornings left… When I’m working I only have one martini.”

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The star keeps herself looking thin as well as young, and in 2012 she released a BeFit video with tips on how to do that. She explained that diets weren’t necessarily always a good idea. “Think instead about making long-term significant lifestyle changes that will improve and sustain your health,” she explained.

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“Most diets focus on weight loss on the scale and they impose temporary and often unhealthy, restrictive behaviour. Unfortunately, this scenario sets us up to fail,” Fonda continued. “Most diets for most people don’t work long-term…. Yo-yo dieting can have very serious negative effects on our health.”

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Fonda instead recommended people change their mindset. Never try a fad diet, she said “Fad diets are the ones promising unrealistic results. You should not try and lose more than two or three pounds per week,” The star also suggested that those who wanted to lose weight shouldn’t weigh themselves. “I don’t even own a scale,” she announced.

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The Oscar-winner has certainly put a lot of work and thought into her appearance. Now it seems she’s very keen to tell others what she has learned. Not only that, but her old fitness videos have also come to DVD for a new generation to enjoy. Yet she’s actually genuinely surprised that she’s in a position to do that now.

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“If you had told me when I was 20 or 30 that I would actually still be acting at 80 on a show like [Grace and Frankie], I would have said, ‘You’re out of your mind, there’s no way,’” she told Ellen DeGeneres in May 2018. “Every day I get up and I want to pinch myself. I feel very blessed.”

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