Jane Seymour, recently snapped for the obligatory January beach picture in the requisite swimsuit, told Loose Women that at 70, she weighs the same as she did in her Bond girl days, 50 years ago.
An increasing number of female celebrities (and some male – see Jeff Goldblum loving his moment on the Prada catwalk in Milan last week) could probably report similarly virtuous stats.
Plenty of today's mid- and later lifers don't look like their counterparts of even a decade ago did. Despite some of the sillier fads, we know more about exercise and have access to better nutrition – and many of our healthier decisions have been driven by vanity.
"I'm never on a diet or anything," Seymour said. She's always been like this (as a teenager, I was smitten with her character Solitaire in Live and Let Die so I know her routine by heart).
She kept an eye on her weight because she had to for her job – the camera, we're told, added 10lb. "One meal a day, that's a really good trick," she says. "Everything in moderation. That works for me."
She ameliorates this monastic regime with some dark chocolate, berries or nuts and red wine in the early evening. Essentially she's on the 16:8, where you consume your calories in an eight-hour period, allowing your body 16 hours to digest, rest and reset – there are plenty of clinical studies showing this to be a healthy approach and we know that maintaining our ideal weight is one of the most important steps we can take for our well-being.
A moderate approach to food and exercise clearly clicks with her – she's glowing and doesn't appear to have resorted to the cosmetic procedures that so many in Los Angeles find mandatory.
Where celebrities lead, the public inevitably follows. Sometimes there are genuinely helpful health hacks to be discovered. I first heard of Pilates in the 1980s because Christopher Lambert, the French-American actor, transformed his physique to play Tarzan in the 1984 film Greystoke by training with London-based Pilates guru Dreas Reyneke.
It took me years to pluck up the courage and funds to enter a Pilates studio – in those days there weren't group classes, everything was a one to one. Vanity got me over the line – everyone who did Pilates looked so graceful.
Twenty-seven years later, I'm grateful that I did. Pilates not only tones muscles, it teaches you to breathe properly and transforms your posture, two of the most health-prolonging, ache-relieving gifts you can give your body.
They weren't kidding about the half-inch-taller bit. When you stand properly – pulling up from your waist – you grow taller, allow breath and energy to flow around your body more freely, and take the weight off your hips and knees.
That's another reason why Seymour (and Jennifer Aniston, Elle Macpherson, Nicole Kidman, Gwyneth Paltrow, Julianne Moore and most ballet dancers, who also do Pilates) look youthful: they're not in pain.
Pilates is exercise you can do for life – Romana Kyrzanowska, a disciple of founder Joseph Pilates was teaching until she died, aged 90 in 2013, and her posture was as upright as it had been in her 30s.
It involves weight bearing (your own) and can be cardio, depending on how vigorously you do it – and unlike running or spin you're unlikely to injure yourself. Much of the above applies to yoga, which so many take up to achieve a "yoga body" but continue because, like Tess Daly at 52, it keeps them supple and lithe.
Maye Musk, the 73-year-old model and mother of Elon, is another famous person whose advice I'd heed, partly because she's a qualified dietician who oozes good sense (she's a vocal critic of finicky diets that eliminate whole food groups) but also because she's such a good advert for what she does.
"Plan your meals. Because if you don't plan, the wheels fall off," she says. She eats a bit of everything. "Lots of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, good oils, as well as avocado, vegetarian at home, and meat, fish, or chicken when I go out. It's also because I'm a bad cook.
"When I go out, I'll get fish or even a steak. Usually, the portions are too large, because it's America, so then I take two-thirds home with me and then the next day I don't have to cook, I just have to do the vegetables."
It sounds trivial, but it's human nature to react to short-term threats first and for those fortunate enough to feel relatively healthy, it's the deterioration of their looks and how good they feel in their favourite
clothes that tend to determine lifestyle choices. Perhaps this isn't such bad motivation.
Mina Lee, a Korean facialist whose treatment room in London has become a mecca for beauty insiders, believes wholeheartedly in the link between external appearance and overall health.
"To treat the skin, you must treat the body too and, conversely, taking care of the skin can recharge your mental and physical wellbeing," she says.
"After identifying problem areas, Lee stimulates pressure points through acupuncture and massage. Result: skin acquires a natural glow due to increased circulation.
"Accessing the body's pressure points, helps deliver oxygen and nutrition more promptly to all our organs, particularly the ones that need it the most."
With all her knowledge, Lee advocates a pared-back, stress-free approach for at-home routines, using high-quality creams such as Spectacle, a wonder product creating waves in medical derm and Hollywood circles.
Once we feel the health benefits of our "beauty" regimens kick in, we become evangelical. In the 1980s, when I entered the workplace, around 70 per cent of British male adults and 55 per cent of women smoked.
This was despite the first conclusive report linking smoking with cancer being published by the Royal College of Physicians in 1962.
But because so many films and advertising campaigns glorified it (French Vogue didn't ban cigarettes from appearing in its fashion editorial until 2011) everyone carried on puffing, until they began to see what it did to their hair, teeth and skin – wrinkles can be a more compelling reason to give something up than distant concerns about health.
Whenever I'm trying to get an esoteric message across about traditional Chinese medicine," says practitioner Katie Brindle, "I'll talk about the benefits to our looks first, because those are measurable improvements."
It was Brindle who made gua sha mainstream – a form of facial massage that uses smoothed crystals or metal to stimulate blood and lymph flow in the face and body and clear sinuses, its main purpose is to reduce stress and inflammation, a major cause of accelerated ageing.
"But the chief reason it became so popular so quickly," she says, "is that people could see an immediate change to the tone around their jawline and cheekbones." For the body, she uses a bamboo tapper to improve circulation, blood flow and energy – it can also have a profound effect on the way skin and cellulite looks.
She's currently channelling her know-how and passion into bringing qi gong, a system that combines breath, movement, balance, meditation and posture-improving exercise, to a wider public.
Qi gong's positive impact on energy levels and stress has been documented for centuries in China, but Brindle concedes, it was the visible changes to her own body – leaner, longer muscles and an end to her lifelong yoyoing weight – that helped her convince a growing number of people looking for long-term forms of exercise to take it up.
Brindle is following a proven trajectory with her vanity-first approach, not that she'd see it as that because, in her view, taking steps to improve your looks is part of fostering a positive mental attitude to life in general.
"Beauty" sleep, for instance, has been talked about for centuries, although as we increasingly know, sleep is vital for memory function and emotional and physical well-being. It is now being almost fetishised, with meditation up there as a conduit.
Connie Britton, the 54-year-old star of Dirty John and The White Lotus, admits that part of the reason she took up meditation was the hope that it would slow down the ageing process.
"Meditation has been a big part of my adult life," she told Health.com in 2020. "It can be 10 minutes... To me, that's a really important tool. And I really believe it helps with wrinkles. We can change our body chemistry through meditation."
Scientific evidence suggests that meditation can reduce both physical pain and emotional stress, both triggers of inflammation in the body, which can speed up ageing.
Another "vanity" impulse that can reap far more than cosmetic benefits is the trend among adults for invisible braces is creating a generation for whom the joke about British teeth no longer applies. Correcting buck teeth can help alleviate jaw clenching, breathing difficulties and tooth decay.
It's a similar story for bunions, which have blighted the feet of not just yours truly, but Naomi Campbell, Tilda Swinton, Amal Clooney, Michelle Yeoh and the Duchess of Sussex, and are not only painful and unsightly, but can also affect balance, mobility and throw the body into chronic misalignment. Lipstick's another mood booster – hence the government's decision during WW2 not to ration it.
Bottom line, don't knock vanity – it's good for us.