December 30th, 2010 / posted by paularath

12-time Olympic swimming medalist and super mom Dara Torres hopes to inspire others to stay active and healthy in 2011. At 41, she won three silver medals while swimming during the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. She defeated a pool full of swimmers half her age while becoming the oldest swimming medalist in Olympic history. Now she’s training to go back to the Olympics in 2012, when she’ll be 45 years old. Dara has always said “age is just a number”. When asked why she is trying for another Olympics (her 6th) she simply responds “why not”.

Dara is living proof you only get fitter with age. Just in time for those New Year’s resolutions, here are Torres’ Tips to help you stay healthy as you age:

1. Fun Fitness Goal. “Even if you don’t believe in yourself yet, if you set a goal that’s not too tough to reach, then meet it that will motivate you to set another one and continue that cycle.”

2.Turn up Your Warmup. Instead of the recommended five minutes of warming up, Dara does at least 15. She says it “helps prevent aches” and make her feel “as spry as she did when she was 17.”Warming up gives your muscles a chance to ease into your workout, this will reduce your chance of sustaining an injury. The longer you warm up, the better.

3. Safe Supplements. Introduce supplements like amino acids, protein shakes, and recovery bars into your routine and diet. Dara takes only one supplement: Fitness Nutrition Gold Medal Aminos  She began taking the product before Beijing and hasn’t stopped since. Amino acids help build lean muscle, build muscular endurance (so you can workout longer), and most importantly as you age, it helps your body recover. It’s suggested to take them in water before and after exercising. Dara calls it her “miracle powder”.

4. Weight lifting. Strength training tones your muscles, gives you energy and prevents osteoporosis. One of Dara’s favorite moves: “Lie facedown on a stability ball, holding a 3-pound dumbbell in each hand, arms extended, and draw the alphabet in the air. It helps pull your shoulders back by working the muscles between your shoulder blades.”

5. More Music. “Research shows that music can distract you from fatigue and help you go longer and harder.” Some songs on Dara’s playlist include “Crazy Train” by Ozzy Osbourne, “Back in Black” by AC/DC, and “Immigrant Song” by Led Zeppelin.

6. Break Time. Dara says, “I don’t always try to work through pain anymore. I allow my body to recover by taking the entire day off, and then I feel ready for the next workout.”

7. Resistance Stretching. To keep the muscle mass she has, three times a week Dara does resistance stretching. Unlike regular stretching, it simultaneously increases both flexibility and strength in your muscles.

8. Don’t Overpush. “I know my body can’t do what it did 10 years ago. I try not to let that dominate my thoughts. You have to do what’s best for you in the moment. Otherwise, you tend to overexert yourself, and that’s not good either.”

 – Paula Rath

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