This 75-year-old fitness influencer started working out to improve her health and gained more than 1 million Instagram followers in the process. She wants people of all ages to know that you’re never too old to get fit. 

Why did you start your fitness journey?

In November 2016, I had an appointment with my doctor and they told me they wanted to up my medications. My blood pressure was really bad. I had terrible acid reflux. I always felt like I was being choked. And my daughter Michelle noticed how bad a shape I was in going up and down stairs. So when I told her what the doctor said, she goes, "Look, you've got to do something here because you're going to end up in a nursing home or in a hospital." She encouraged me to join her health and fitness group [Your Healthy Hedonista] so it would make me more accountable. And it would give me support. Almost a year later, I started the Instagram account. My daughter introduced me to that part. 

WW JOAN MacDONALD
Credit: Courtesy of MacDonald

What do you hope to accomplish with your platform?

I want to encourage people to take care of their health with workouts, nutrition, and mindset. I have found that a lot of people have changed their lives completely by following what I do. I don't think there's a continent that I haven't had a response from. 

Why is it important for people your age to see themselves reflected in the fitness industry?

Older people need to know that they're worthwhile—their lives are still worthwhile, and they can get healthier. 

What's next for you?

We've got a new app that's coming out. I'm doing the exercises for that, so people can see that as an older person, if I can do it, they can do it. We're going to start off with limited-range-of-movement exercises for people that have never exercised before. And eventually we'll add workouts that are for people more advanced. But to get it off the ground, we want to get at the people that really need it. 

What are the most important lessons you've learned about getting fit?

Eating five meals a day, like smaller meals targeted to protein, carbs, and good fats. Getting enough sleep—seven to eight hours of sleep per day is so important. And hydrating, making sure you have at least three liters of water a day, because when I don't do it, I get headaches and I feel lethargic. Also, working out in the morning. It gives me a kick start. So I like to start my day off that way. And then the rest of the day is mine. 

What is your favorite form of exercise?

Bicycling. I don't even bother with a car unless I'm going on a long trip. I'm discovering more and more routes. I can get lost sometimes. But then I find where I'm going after a while. I'm working on my inner compass. 

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

I hope I am as strong or stronger than what I am now. I hope to be as active, too. I just can't see me getting old. My mindset is that when you're retired and you're looking after yourself, you've got time. Spend it wisely on yourself, so that you get more time with others. 

This article originally appeared in the September 2021 issue of Health Magazine. Click here to subscribe today!

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