Jane Fonda Shares Her Secret to Fighting Depression: “Keep Moving”
Warning: This article deals with the topic of mental health and may be distressing for some readers.
Jane Fonda is the queen of the at-home workout. She practically invented it with her exercise tapes in the 1980s. But now, she disclosed exactly how much working out has impacted her – including helping her battle depression. “I come from a long line of really depressed people, and the best way to fight depression is to keep moving,” she said at the opening of H&M’s Move Studio in New York City on Feb. 8, per People.
Now she “thanks God every day” that she’s maintained an active lifestyle for more than 40 years. But when she was younger, she didn’t always love fitness – even making up excuses to get out of gym class.
“I didn’t know that it was important to do ’til I was in my 30s,” she explained at the opening. “I had a ‘constant period’ all during school so that I couldn’t do gym – anything to get out of gym.”
“I come from a long line of really depressed people, and the best way to fight depression is to keep moving.”
It wasn’t until her late 30s or early 40s that she started to become active. “Life before I was active wasn’t nearly as good as when I started to move,” Fonda continued. She also said she noticed that the “shape of my body” was changing alongside the improvement in her mental health.
Now, she keeps up a fitness routine because she loves what it does for her quality of life. “You’ve got to stay strong,” she said. “I have a grandson who’s 3 years old, and I can still pick him up. I mean, I have to bend my knees and, you know, it takes a long time to get him up there, but I can still pick him up. You want to be able to carry your own bags.”
And most importantly: “You have to be able to, you know, make love,” Fonda added. “I don’t remember much [about that], but do I remember you need flexibility!”
In September 2022, the actress announced her non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma diagnosis, which has been in remission since December. “I won,” she joked during Wednesday’s event.
In true Fonda fashion, the activist has been honest about her experience with cancer treatment. In January, she told “Entertainment Tonight” that chemotherapy “hit me hard.” Noting it wasn’t “so bad” in the beginning, it started to drain on her over time. Thankfully, she was able to celebrate her 85th birthday with news that her cancer was in remission.
She shared with “ET” that she thinks reflecting on mortality is a “healthy thing to do.” “I think about death a lot. I have for the last 30 years,” she said. “It’s hard to live right if you don’t think about death. It’s a part of life.”
She said other cultures aren’t as afraid of contemplating death. “I spend a lot of time thinking about it and it’s made my life a lot better,” she continued. “And when you get a cancer diagnosis, you think about it even more and you want to be sure you get the things done that you want to get done, so when the time comes you won’t have a lot of regrets.”
If this article brings up any issues for you or anyone you know, or if you or a young person you know is struggling with symptoms of mental illness, please contact Headspace (1800 650 890) or chat online. If you are over the age of 25 and suffering from symptoms of mental illness, please contact your local GP for a Mental Health Assessment Plan or call Lifeline (13 11 14) or Kids Helpline (1800 55 1800), both of which provide trained counsellors you can talk with 24/7.