In her book, Gold Medal Fitness, Olympic swimmer Dara Torres shows readers how to trim their waistline, tone muscles and do Ki-Hara stretching exercises that can help combat the stiffness and pain caused by arthritis and aging.

“As I traveled the country after the 2008 Olympics I was asked by many women and men my secrets for staying in shape at the age of 43,” Torres says. “The exercises in my book are based on my own routine but can also be adapted by readers of any age and athletic ability.”

Torres began doing Ki-Hara, a form of resistance stretching, almost 10 years ago and credits the exercises with making a huge difference in how her body moves, both on land and in water. She also credits Ki-Hara with easing the osteoarthritis pain in her shoulder and knee.

“Ki-Hara is about creating balance and efficiency in the body,” Torres says. “By moving and stretching the body in ways that mimic how your body moves in real life, you can increase your flexibility and range of motion.”

Torres firmly believes that age is just a number and encourages men and women who want to get physically fit, regardless of their age, shape or weight, to commit to fitness. For those who have been sedentary, or have other health concerns, Torres recommends getting the approval of your doctor, and starting an exercise plan slowly.

 “Whether you want to slim your waist, or strengthen your core so that your lower back doesn’t bother you, these exercises can help you achieve your goal,” she says.

Torres also includes a five-week eating plan and guide to supplements for readers. The meal plans are simple, and perfect for those with busy lives who don’t have time to do a lot of cooking or meal planning.

“I recommend eating every four hours,” Torres says. “My meals contain a mix of protein (lean meat, poultry, seafood), grains and fruit and vegetables high in fiber, beans and legumes and good fats (olive oil, nuts and seeds). I limit my daily intake of dairy and carbs and while I believe in having something sweet after dinner I try to make wise choices. You don’t want to throw away all your physical work by having a pint of ice cream!”

Ki-Hara

Try this Ki-Hara exercise from the book Gold Medal Fitness by Dara Torres.

Delt Closer – This move stretches the trapezius, deltoids and neck, and can be done seated, standing or kneeling.

  1. Start with your left arm extended straight out to your side at shoulder height. Bend your arm at a 90-degree angle so your fingers are pointed forward and place your right hand on your left forearm, just below the elbow.
  2. Contract the left arm up as if you are doing a side delt raise at the gym – lifting your entire arm from the shoulder. Use the right hand to push the left arm down to the side. Be sure to give “lift” or traction by gently rolling the left arm as you lower it.
  3. Return to start position.
  4. Do 5 to 10 reps on each side.

Bonus: If you tilt your head so that your right ear is by your right shoulder while doing this stretch, you’ll get a great neck stretch.