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Fonda, who helped inspire the aerobics revolution of the '80s, recently released two new fitness DVDs.


One look at Jane Fonda, 73, on our cover and across these pages raises the question: How on earth does she do it?

"Nothing is more important as you age than staying physically active," the septuagenarian says with characteristic conviction. Her message is in the medium: She recently released two new fitness DVDs geared to Baby Boomers and featuring her age-defyingly slender and fit self.

Since she was first on screen as the babelicious Barbarella, then as an Oscar winner and, in the '80s, as a founding mother of the aerobics revolution, Fonda has been an icon of fitness and beauty. And she's not about to let age put an end to all that. We asked her to tell us more about how she does it:

Diet. A super-healthy eating plan is the centerpiece of her regimen. Fonda, who had bulimia and anorexia when she was younger, says she eats "zero trans fats, zero partially hydrogenated oils." And "no desserts, period."

On her daily menu: lots of grilled or steamed fish and chicken, fresh fruit and vegetables (especially dark green), dairy and the occasional piece of lean, red bison meat. "Look, I was married to Ted Turner for 10 years," she says with a laugh. (Turner owns the largest private herd of bison in the world.)

She laments having to give up wine ("unless it's really good") to avoid acid reflux.

The discipline has paid off, says Fonda, who credits it with keeping her cholesterol and blood pressure low and her heart "perfect, a 20-year-old's" — unlike her father's. Actor Henry Fonda died of heart failure at age 77.

Exercise. It's key — and constant. To maintain her 121-pound, 5-foot-8 frame, she walks, hikes, swims or rides an exercise bike for 60 minutes four or five days a week. She also works out with weights three to four times a week and does yoga.

"I don't get up in the morning and say, 'Oh, boy, I'm going to work out,' " she says. "I do it because of how I feel inside when it's over. There's nothing better for depression than exercise."

That's especially good news for Fonda. Both sides of her family have suffered from depression. Her mother committed suicide when Fonda was 12, "and my father suffered from undiagnosed low-grade depression," she says. Fonda herself got help over the years from therapy and medication, "and I didn't get depressed," she says.

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Sleep. Fonda gets eight to nine hours of sleep a night, and it's another crucial component in her health picture, she says. "I've got to sleep or I'll cry a lot, [and] my brain won't function."

Sex. "I find as I've gotten older, intimacy, including sexual intimacy, has become better because you know more who you are," says Fonda, whose "mate" is record producer Richard Perry, 68. (She has no plans to marry again. "No, never," she says. "Three times is enough. I'm trying to keep at least two between me and my father; he was married five times.")

Dancing. "We dance every night to Fly Me to the Moon," Fonda says (Rod Stewart's version, which Perry produced). "It's a fantastic workout." She also is taking swing and hip-hop dance lessons to "learn some moves."

If it all sounds too perfect, Fonda is the first to acknowledge it isn't. She has osteoarthritis and, like millions of postmenopausal women, osteoporosis. She has had her left knee and right hip replaced. And to combat bone loss from osteoporosis, she takes a bundle of prescription and non-prescription medications, including a monthly bone-building drug (Boniva), vitamin D, calcium and two Aleve tablets morning and night.

Despite the challenges, she's happier than ever. "Very few things will stress me, and the stress doesn't stick as long," she says.

She also doesn't take anything for granted: "We've been granted an amazing gift of time, 34 years of additional life on average that our grandparents and great-grandparents never had," she says.

Fonda clearly is making the most of it.

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