Daniel MacPherson on diet and fitness in his 40s

Australian actor Daniel MacPherson on his approach to diet, exercise and finally learning what works for him.

Daniel MacPherson has spent decades fine-tuning his approach to diet and exercise.

As he reflects on his journey, the Neighbours and The Shannara Chronicles star reveals how his perspective on health and fitness has evolved, especially now in his 40s.

Gone are the days of pushing his body to its limits in grueling triathlons and marathons; today, it’s all about balance, sustainability and setting a positive example for his young son.

He reveals what works for him and how he stays performance-ready for his latest role in The Woman in Black.

Daniel MacPherson on fitness, fatherhood and finding balance

Pushing physical limits

Health and wellbeing looks and feels a lot different in my 40s than it did when I was younger.

In my 20s, it was all about how far and how fast I could push myself.

I was training to race.

Triathlons, Ironmans, adventure races, marathons; you name it, I did it.

I’ve always been fascinated by what my body and mind are capable of and so I pushed myself to see how good I could be.

Understanding nutrition

I really wish I had known more about the science of sports nutrition back then.

I’ve no doubt that my naivety in this area led to some very painful and disappointing marathons at the back end of an Ironman triathlon!

Nutrition is something I’ve really studied in the past decade.

I’ve had genetic testing done and learnt a Mediterranean diet, rich in fats and oils, is better for me genetically.

I’ve also had great success with the keto diet, particularly when getting in shape for a role.

Prioritising health

Health and fitness become even more of a priority when touring a show like The Woman in Black.

I’m performing a two-hour play daily — often twice daily — for up to four months on different stages around the country.

To stay at the top of my game, I balance weight training with exercise like running, as well as restorative practices like saunas, stretching and meditation.

Embracing mindfulness

I discovered meditation 10 years ago and when I can get good consistency with it, it’s a superpower for me.

Now I’m in my 40s, training and exercise is about being strong, healthy and mobile.

Setting a positive example

As the father of a four-year-old, I want to be active and injury-free for many years to come.

I try to live as an example to him at this young age.

We do our ‘exercises’ together, be that in the gym or at the beach.

He does gymnastics and swimming weekly, which he loves.

The main lessons for me, and that I was taught by my parents, are that ‘you are capable of anything’ and ‘everything is in your control’.

By that I mean: If you want to get stronger, faster, better, it is in your control; you just need to do the hard work.

That and, ultimately, do what you love. Do what makes you happy.

Photo credit: Justin Aveling

See Daniel MacPherson live on stage during the Australian tour of The Woman in Black, a play based on Susan Hill’s acclaimed, spine-chilling ghost story. 

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Written by Siobhan Duck.