'I am a 60-year-old woman, menopausal and the mother of two. When I go out, it's rare for anyone to turn their heads to look at me. There is nothing about me to attract attention. I pass by totally unnoticed. But when I go running, that's a different story. Then people always turn their heads to watch me."
Loles Vives has exercised all her life. She has been Spanish speed 'recordwoman' in all categories from the age of 12 to the present day. Her long sporting career, combined with her training as a biologist and her studies in nutrition, have given her "enough experience" to know first-hand the keys that will help us to have a young and healthy body all through our lives.
"There is no point in not having wrinkles if you're incapable of walking without dragging your feet," says this athlete and author, whose book 'Mantente siempre joven y en forma' is about staying young and fit. Here, she gives us ten pieces of advice which have helped her to "make a pact with the devil".
The World Health Organisation recommends that adults between the ages of 18 and 64 spend at least 150 minutes a week doing moderate intensity aerobic exercise or 75 minutes of high intensity exercise to keep in shape.
1. Get off the sofa and MOVE
If there is one thing we know for sure, it is that "a sedentary lifestyle is bad for you, it causes premature ageing and kills", so you know what to do: get off the sofa and get moving. "Walk, run, play, climb stairs, dance, whatever...it's a case of not staying still for very long at a time. As well as moving regularly, a particular physical activity is highly recommended. Whatever you fancy or motivates you. Work it out in your head. Human beings are designed to keep moving. Here's a statistic for you: in just one day with no activity, the body loses up to 150 grammes of muscle mass, which is the equivalent of a kilo per week, and it also makes you fat," insists Vives.
2. Make the EFFORT
Rafa Nadal's physical trainer says that making an effort has a rejuvenating effect. Not that many people take much notice. "If your muscles are wasted you can't even cut a steak," warns Vives. From the age of 40 onwards, we lose muscle mass: about eight per cent per decade, and that percentage doubles after the age of 70, which is why strengthening exercises are so important. "In men, the loss is more gradual, but in women it happens more suddenly once they have the menopause," she explains.
3. REST, the invisible training
Vives is very clear about this. "Sleeping, resting and recovering are three fundamental aspects for pacting with the devil," she says. Trainers of elite athletes consider rest to be part of what they call invisible training, together with sleep, nutrition, physiotherapy sessions and psychological care. And, of course, the training sessions, which can be "changed, adapted or suspended".
4. Don't ill-treat your JOINTS
Don't ill-treat your JOINTS. In the book, Loles says "it's better to have crows' feet than a callus". Looking after joints is another "essential condition if you want to grow old dancing reggaeton," she says. In this case, excess weight is one of the main enemies of knee pain, as this is the joint most vulnerable to wear and tear. Again, strengthening work is essential to avoid injuries.
5. STRENGTHEN heart and back
According to traumatologist Rafael González Díaz, 85 per cent of lower back pain is non-specific and can be cured with exercise, ergonomic measures, physiotherapy and good posture. "The key is physical activity," says this specialist. In fact, many pains and spinal problems are rarely as serious as they seem. A piece of advice: strengthen your CORE (abdominals, lower back, buttocks, pelvic floor, diaphragm...) and activate the heart "without exceeding your maximum cardiac rate".
6.Forget draconian DIETS
In reality, we all know the magic formula for staying in shape. Exercise and a healthy diet. There is no other. So, which is the most healthy diet? Mediterranean, Asian, vegan...? "Actually, there is no healthy diet which is suitable for everyone, but we do know with some certainty what is good for us and what isn't," says Vives. Most scientific societies recommend that the amount of fat consumed should not be more than 30 to 35 per cent of total calories, but it is not just the amount that is important but also the type of fat we consume. Quantity and quality determine its effect on our health.
7. Get on the SCALES
"If the scales say you are putting on weight it is time to take action, or the day will come when instead of them showing two or three extra kilos you will find you have a real problem of obesity," says Vives. She advises not following any diet "which is well-known, or fashionable, or has a specific name (such as Atkins, Dunkan etc) or which promises that you will lose prodigious amounts of weight". In her view, a weight loss diet should be "exclusive to each person".
8. Don't POISON your body
This can basically be summed up as "don't smoke; keep alcohol to a minimum; don't abuse medications and bear in mind that drugs kill". And no more sunshine than you need.
9. Have medical CHECK-UPS
Don't be lazy or afraid about going to the doctor for regular checkups and blood tests. "It's also a good idea to take a strength test before taking up a sport."
10. SEX, synonymous with happiness.
Loles Vives says sex should not be missing because "it is synonymous with happiness". Practising sex "reduces stress, increases wellbeing, helps you sleep, strengthens women's pelvic floors... it's the best medicine there is!" she says.