How Harrison Ford keeps fit in his 80s – and the £9 workout tool he uses

He’s been cracking the whip as Indiana Jones on the big screen – but at 81, how does Harrison Ford stay so fit?

He might be 81 years old, but Harrison Ford is still cracking the whip as Indiana Jones. The latest installment, Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, saw him team up with Phoebe Waller-Bridge for the first Indy outing in 15 years, and he’s still got that movie-star magic.  

Ford has enjoyed a long and illustrious career, starring in huge action blockbusters such as Apocalypse Now, Blade Runner and, of course, the Star Wars films. Demanding roles require a good level of physical fitness, and Ford has been open about needing to look after himself as he ages, but just how does he stay so fit at 81?  

Harrison FordCredit: Shutterstock / DFree

Harrison Ford enjoys cycling and tennis

When it comes to exercise, do what you enjoy is a good mantra. Not only are you more likely to want to do it in the first place, but you’re more likely to stick to it. Speaking on The Ellen Show in 2020, Ford said: “I dont work out like crazy. I work out a bit. I mean I ride bikes and I play tennis.”  

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His love of cycling was evident when filming Indiana Jones in Northumberland in 2021. Despite gruelling 11-hour night shoots that finished at 5am, Ford was seen heading out on long bike rides after just six hours sleep.

Indy co-star Mads Mikkelsen gave The Hollywood Reporter some insight into Ford’s fitness: “It was the first time I met him, and he’s an insanely powerful person,” he said. “Not just as an actor, but physically. I remember the first day we were shooting, it was a night shoot, then we stopped at 5am – and then he got on his mountain bike and went biking for 50 kilometres (31 miles). Harrison is a monster of a man, a very nice monster.” 

Speaking to USA Today in 2020, Ford summed up his fitness as follows: “I’m healthy, I enjoy being active and fit. I’m aware of keeping my old [butt] in shape.” 

The benefits of cycling

Cycling offers many options. If you’re a fair-weather cyclist, you can head to the gym if it’s raining to use an indoor bike or take part in a spin class. Outside, you have the choice of following one of our country’s cycling networks or going off road for some mountain biking.  

Personal trainer and fitness instructor Julia Buckley highlights some of the benefits of cycling:  

  • Cardiovascular health: “Cycling is a fantastic aerobic exercise that gets the heart pumping, helping to improve cardiovascular fitness and decrease the risk of heart disease.” 
  • Joint-friendly: “As a low-impact exercise, cycling is easier on the joints compared with high-impact activities, making it an excellent choice for older adults or those with joint issues.” 
  • Full-body workout: “Although primarily seen as a leg exercise, cycling also engages the core, back, and arms, especially during uphill rides or when cycling at a higher intensity.” 

Harrison Ford uses an ab wheel

Ab wheels are great tools for strengthening your core, and it seems Ford is a fan. They’re not as popular as they once were, owing to the advancements in gym equipment, meaning we have so much more to choose from, but they’re still great for working out at home. They’re very reasonably priced, too, starting at around £9.  

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Phoenix Fitness ab roller

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Phoenix Fitness ab roller

Appearing on The Ellen Show in 2017, Ford revealed he has a gym at home and does “weights and wheels”, demonstrating an ab wheel. “You do the old-fashioned wheel thing on your knees?” Ellen DeGeneres asked, with Ford confirming.  

Not only is Ford reaping the benefits of strength training by using weights, he will be maintaining strength in his stomach and lower back by using the ab wheel – important as we age to help avoid lower back issues by keeping good posture.  

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Man using ab wheelCredit: Shutterstock / IndianFaces

Tips for using an ab wheel

Buckley shares her top tips for getting started with an ab wheel at home:  

  • Engage the core: “When rolling out, it’s vital to keep the core engaged. This will protect the lower back and ensure that the abdominal muscles are doing the majority of the work.” 
  • Controlled motion: “It’s not about how far you can roll, but how controlled and stable your motion is. For beginners, a smaller roll-out (even just a few inches) is a great starting point.” 
  • Neutral spine: “Keep a straight line from your head to your tailbone. Avoid arching the lower back as you roll out and keep the chin tucked to maintain spinal alignment.” 

He doesn’t eat meat or dairy

When it comes to a healthy diet, Ford adopts a clean-eating approach, telling DeGeneres he eats “practically nothing”, before further clarifying that he mainly sticks to fish and vegetables. “It’s really boring,” he added. 

Ford might not be enamoured with his diet of choice, but eating fish has many health benefits – researchers recently found that people who eat omega-3-rich foods, such as sardines, regularly are less likely to develop hearing issues. Oily fish is also rich in vitamin D and could help to prevent heart disease.  

Ford says: “I just decided I was tired of eating meat, and I know it’s not really good for the planet and it’s not really good for me.” A lifelong environmentalist, Ford addressed the UN in 2019 on the importance of protecting the rainforests.  

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Becky Fuller

Written by Becky Fuller she/her

Published:

Becky Fuller is a fully qualified Personal Trainer, specialising in strength and conditioning for over 50s. Becky’s focus is helping people to become stronger both in body and mind, and to move well without pain. Becky also has many years’ experience working as a freelance journalist, writing for a wide variety of publications such as Screen Rant, Geek Feed, and Daily Actor. She also regularly reviews theatre productions for UKTW.

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