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You’ve been quoted as saying, “If you rest, you’ll rust.” Can you explain that theory?

As we age, sitting is the worst thing for us. So I want to try to get people up out of that chair for circulation. Circulation is what helps heal your body. And when you move more, you’re able to get the circulation going. That’s why I’m a big believer in “if you don’t use it, you’ll lose it” and “if you rest, you’ll rust” because you get stiff when you’re sitting for long periods of time.

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What areas of the body do you recommend that people over 50 focus on when exercising, beyond the core?

The core includes your back, so that’s the most important — your core and your back. But I also think it’s really important to keep leg and buttock strength, so when you get up out of the chair, you’re able to do more functional things throughout the day. So that would probably be the second most important because it keeps you walking.

spinner image denise austin performing an exercise on an exercise mat in her home

Are there certain exercises you think are crucial for people over 50? If there was only one exercise per day to do, what would it be?

Well, one exercise would just be walking, first of all.

​​I would say if you could practice a plank, it really works on your back as well as your core. But a lot of times, you can’t start that way because it’s so hard, so you could do a modified one on your knees and just try to lift yourself up.

​​For me, there’s three exercises that I make sure I do every day that really keep me fit, and I have been doing this forever. A squat for my lower body, a crunch for my midsection and a push-up on my knees for my upper body. It really hits all the major muscles from head to toe.

​​The other great exercise that works the lower body that’s easy on everybody is just a pelvic tilt. You get down on your back, bend your knees, keep your feet flat on the floor and your knees hip-width apart, and do a pelvic tilt. It’s like a bridge, but you just come a few inches off the ground and go back down.

How do you get motivated to exercise? And what’s helped you stay motivated over the years?

I go in spurts, like anybody, and the most important thing that keeps me motivated is knowing how good I feel after a workout — that wonderful sense of self-accomplishment, that wonderful feeling that I did it, that I overcame procrastination.

​​Even if it’s a 10-minute workout, I always feel better. You’ll never regret getting in 10 minutes. And you just can’t believe the difference in your mood and your ability to think clearly.

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