Let's get one thing straight: Aging can be an incredibly beautiful thing. With age comes a wealth of wisdom, experiences, and memories under your belt. However, looking and feeling younger than one's age is an incredibly common fitness goal—and for good reason. Keeping your body as healthy, flexible, and mobile as possible can help you deal with many of life's curveballs associated with growing older; it also helps you continue to lead the independent life you love. If you're looking to take a sip from the figurative Fountain of Youth, take an inspiring cue from 69-year-old Liz Hilliard, the owner and creator of the Hilliard Studio Method. Hilliard shares with Eat This, Not That! her go-to fitness habits to stay young.
Read on to learn more about what keeps this 69-year-old fitness trainer looking 25. And when you're finished, be sure to check out I Tried 4 Pairs of HOKA Sneakers & One Beats the Rest By a Mile.
If you want to age gracefully like Hilliard, engaging in a regular strength training routine is the name of the game. "Strength training is my number one tip for aging gracefully and staying physically and mentally healthy and strong," she reveals. "Four to five times a week, I use a combination of compound, core-centric Pilates-based exercises utilizing dumbbells, resistance bands, gliders, weighted balls as well as gravity for a low-impact total-body sculpting, cardiovascular workout. My workout not only has increased my muscle mass as I have aged but improved my balance and flexibility as well."
When she turned 50, Hilliard started incorporating heavier weights into her Pilates workout and noticed a reduction in belly fat and a slimmer waistline—all while dealing with menopause. "In the last 19 years, my workout has had an incredible benefit to my overall health," she adds. "I'm not genetically lucky. In my family heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, and osteoporosis traditionally strike at an early age. At 69, I have a low VO2 max (an indication of overall health) of an elite athlete, a BMI of 19.5, excellent bone density, and cardio health all due to my workout, good nutrition, and lifestyle. I share this not as a braggadocio, but to inspire everyone to add strength training exercises to their workout."
Performing core-centric exercises
Another regular fitness habit Hilliard follows? Performing core-based exercises. "Core-centric exercises [are key] for strengthening my spine and keeping me injury-free while keeping all 5'9" of my height intact as I age," she shares. "Pilates is my first love and is the basis for my workout. A strong core not only strengthens my spine and flattens my abs but keeps me working safely through some very complex HSM exercises!"
Taking daily walks—without counting steps
A well-balanced fitness routine combines both strength and cardio-based exercises—something Hilliard understands well. "I love to walk, rain or shine," she says. "Being outside restores my spirit and keeps my body moving in a healthy, non-stressful way. Bonus points if I'm walking with a friend or my partner. Life feels a lot lighter on the move. Oh, and I don't count my steps. I count my blessings instead."
Every day, Hilliard sets the goal of completing a minimum of 30 pushups. "I believe all of us should be able to do one pushup for every year we've been alive," she reveals. "I'll be doing 70 next month! A pushup is essentially a moving plank and one of the most efficient full-body exercises we can do. Twenty years ago, I couldn't complete one. So I started on my knees with my core engaged completing one at a time until I worked my way up to 30 per day. You're never too old to start regardless of your age or fitness level."
Stretching and foam rolling
Hilliard works stretching into her strength Pilates workout, but she also carves out time to check in with her body via stretching and giving extra TLC to areas of her body that are especially tight or stressed. "I use a foam roller to loosen the tight fascia around my muscles or problem areas that need special attention," she says.
As with any successful fitness routine, rest and recovery should be a priority. "I take full rest days and consider them an integral part of my fitness plan," Hilliard explains. "Our body needs time to restore and replenish. On rest days I try to incorporate some sort of play as well as a light stroll. I'm lucky to have two willing grandchildren who are only too happy to help out!"
Turning to a support system
Last but certainly not least, Hilliard stresses the importance of having a solid support system to turn to. "I have found that establishing a community of support to help not only keep me accountable with my workout but to keep it fun is essential and a habit that I hope we all will establish," she says. "You really can't separate physical and mental health at the end of the day as one always leads to the other."