20 Amazing Bodies of Female Athletes Over 40
For most professional athletes, diet, and exercise are part of the job. Performing well on the court, course, field, or in the gym, poo, or ring, requires a dedication to healthy living, discipline, and nutrition. Even after their professional careers are over, female athletes keep doing the things they love to stay in shape. Here are 20 amazing bodies of female athletes over 40 and all of their top health, wellness, and diet secrets.
Serena Williams is one of the most body-confident athletes. "My philosophy is eat to live. Don't live to eat," Serena William revealed to Women's Health. "You need it to survive. And [that's] very hard to live by, cause I definitely love to snack, but this is what I want. These are my goals."
Venus Williams is all about a plant-based lifestyle and even launched her own vegan protein brand, Happy Viking, in 2020. "I need to refuel and provide protein to my muscles quickly after I work out for recovery and to maintain muscle," she told Insider in 2021. "So Happy Viking was created to fuel your inner fighter, your inner Viking, while feeling happy and satisfied about what you put in your body."
Danica, 41, doesn't pick and choose when she is going to be healthy. "What I'm hoping is that people realize that this is a lifestyle," she said during an appearance on Good Morning America. "I want them to develop a good relationship with food and exercise to not be a reward or punishment but a way of life and something that makes you feel good and something that makes you a better you every single day." One of her health habits is eating paleo, she revealed on her website. "Paleo is based on the idea that you only eat foods that were available to ancient man before the invention of agriculture. So no grains, no dairy, no beans or legumes, no added sugars or preservatives. Instead, you focus on naturally raised meats, vegetables, fruits, and nuts," she said. "My intention was to only do it for a week or two to reset my body with less sugar and more veggies. Well . . . I felt so good, and saw such amazing results, that I never quit."
Former WWE star Torrie Wilson is all about the 80/20 method of eating. "I go for the 80% rule of healthy. I'm now more focused on eating whole, natural foods that have a lot of nutrients to help me feel good from the inside out. I'm anti-strict eating because of competing and being anorexic," she said.
Gabrielle Reece revealed to Parade that she bounces between high intensity interval workouts (HIIT) and underwater circuits. "I try to create a little bit of structure. Monday, Wednesday and Friday I typically will do some kind of HIIT, high intensity mixed bag of exercises that I change each time. It's about 60 minutes of work, a little bit less. I write the workouts, a mix of resistance, strength and dumbbells," she said. "After I workout, I try to do a breathing routine that's about 15 to 20 minutes, to start the recovery process and down-regulating. It's really important that even if we're sitting at our desk or driving in our car, that we're nose breathing as often as we possibly can. That's a really important health idea. So my routine involves a lot of nose breathing and oxygenating the tissues and the cells. That's Monday, Wednesday, Friday if the schedule permits in a perfect world."
Dara Torres suffered from an eating disorder in college that left her with a "fear" of foods. "And so my philosophy is to eat healthy, but if you have a craving for something, don't deprive yourself; just have a little bit of it to help with the craving that you have. My philosophy is that if you are keeping yourself from eating certain things and not having what you want, you're gonna want it more than you should. So that's the biggest thing with me with diet. I try to eat my proteins every day and my fruits and vegetables. But I do have a sweet tooth. I can't deny that. For some reason it gets worse when I travel. I'm out to dinner and I see someone having chocolate cake, I'll ask for a piece, take a couple of bites, and then let everyone else have it. I just can't cut out certain foods completely and be that restrictive after what I went through in college. I try to eat little meals throughout the entire day. So I always make sure that if I get hungry or need snacks, I will have macadamia nuts or avocados. I just try to eat healthy stuff but I'm not a saint. That's for sure!" she told Parade.
Summer Sanders maintains that eating a healthy breakfast every morning is her healthiest habit "I never miss breakfast. As a busy mom, there will be days when I'm cruisin' along and I'll look at the clock and I haven't eaten lunch. And I'll run downstairs and I'll start shovelin' stuff down the pie hole, and I'll think, "That was no lunch at all." But breakfast has sort of turned into the new dinner, where you can sit down with your family and have a conversation. And my kids talk at breakfast. We talk about our dreams, talk about our nights' sleep, talk about what we wanna do today and be positive," she told Self.
Kristin Armstrong is still a runner. "I probably run five days a week; I go to the gym for strength training twice a week; and I try to do yoga twice a week. How far I run depends on what I'm training for. If I'm doing marathon training, then my long runs on Saturdays will escalate depending on what part of my program I'm at. During a regular week, I run 3 to 10 miles per day, and I bump it up on the weekends," she told Self.
Jo Pavey fuels her body with food. "When you're running you need to make sure you are getting a decent amount of carbohydrate in order to fuel yourself. I do give myself a cheat day – I mean pizza is a great carbohydrate and you can always put healthy toppings on it. It's all about balance and just generally I've found having that balance in life does me a lot of good," she told The Sun.
Zara Phillips avoids two things. "I don't diet but I try to eat well and not to eat too many carbohydrates or sugary things. Lunch is quick and simple, like soup and a sandwich or eggs and toast," she told the Sunday Times Magazine.
At 41, Oksana Chusovitina was the oldest gymnast to compete at the Olympics. When asked what motivated her to return to elite competition after having a child, she didn't hesitate to respond. "There was no motivation. I stepped into the gym to work out a little bit, to get my body back in shape."
Lisa Leslie revealed to ESPNW that hse has a daily toothbrush workout routine which includes squats and leg lifts. "My favorite workout involves an electric toothbrush and whole lot of squats. If you get an electric toothbrush it usually runs for two minutes [and] you do four quadrants of your mouth. While at the same time, you can do your squats. So I do my squats probably for a minute, which gets me about 50 squats in a minute and then I do leg lifts and raises for the other minute. That pretty much gets my teeth cleaned and my butt toned," she said.
In an interview with Hello! magazine, former Olympic skier Chemmy Alcott was inspired to lose weigh after having children. "I looked in the mirror and I wasn't comfortable with who I was," she said. "I didn't know who was looking back at me. I had been a professional athlete for 20 years, then I became a mum and I lost who I was. I wanted to find myself again and be confident in myself as a woman and mother." She added that she hired a personal trainer, her friend Sarah Lindsay and embarked on a 12-week body program.
Annika Sorenstam maintains a health diet. She drinks water and tea, stays away from fried food, and rarely has juice. "We eat three meals a day, in reasonable portions, and we live active lifestyles. In the evening, we'll grill a simple chicken or fish, steam broccoli to go with it, maybe sauté some mushrooms. We don't buy any of it ready-made because you don't know what salt and preservatives are in those foods," she told Edible Orlando. "I don't believe in light diet foods," she says. "My husband and I enjoy food very much. Often he'll hang out while I cook, we'll share a bottle of wine and dine at home. It's more comfortable than going to a restaurant."
Anna Kournikova has a no-frills approach to exercise. "I grew up in the Soviet Union in the eighties and nineties. We didn't have gyms, let alone a treadmill. We worked with what we had; you can too. All you need are sneakers and a sports bra to go running. Or try jumping rope for 10 minutes—it's a great workout!" she told Glamour. "Exercise gives us energy and confidence, so why cut corners? It's easier to incorporate it into your life and feel good now, rather than put it off and feel guilty about it a year from now."
Steffi Graff stays active. "I am generally a very energetic person. I like to be in motion, I like to act. I still try to start the day with a 45-minute workout – running, yoga, exercise – because after it my head seems to clear up, I feel not only physical vigor, but also amazing mental clarity. I'm ready for a new day. Daily challenges are very important. And not only in terms of sports," she said in an interview.
Lindsay Davenport has spent up to 10 to 15 hours doing hitting and stroke drills, plus three hours of free weights, the occasional Pilates class ("depending on how stiff I am"), and two sessions of footwork and plyometrics (high-impact drills), she revealed to Marie Claire.
Natalya is all about workout buddies. "I'm guilty as anyone of procrastinating when I don't have a set schedule to follow. For me, I need accountability, which is why I grab a partner. My mom, sister, friends, my husband, heck even my cat have all joined me for some pretty awesome workouts! When you have a partner and your sweat session is like an appointment you have to 'show up for,' you won't miss a workout! These are tools I use to keep me on track, when life sometimes life feels 'out of our hands,'" she told Calgary Sun.
UFC fighter Marion Reneau wakes up early, eats breakfast and does a morning one-on-one session with her coach. Then she spends an hour with her strength and conditioning coach, and drives home for lunch and takes a two hour break. Then, she goes on a three-mile run, followed by Jiu-Jitsu, grappling and wrestling, with her husband. "I'm still active," she told Visalia Times Delta.
Natalie Gulbis consumes a high protein diet. "My diet six days a week consists of protein shakes with whey protein, healthy fats, greens and probiotics for breakfast and lunch. I have protein bars as snacks in between. For dinner I usually have fish or steak with steamed veggies. When I am home and not on tour I sit down for lunch. Usually chicken with salad dressing on the side. I allow myself 200-300 calories of a treat a day. A Michelob ultra, glass of wine, chocolate etc. On Sundays after the tournament I have a cheat meal and eat whatever I may have been craving. I like consistency and protein keeps my energy up and my body feeling good," she told Women Fitness.