At 61, Tom Cruise looks and moves better than a man half his age.
Cruise has been scaling skyscrapers and leaping from planes for four-plus decades now. Seven Mission: Impossibles (soon to be eight), two Top Guns (soon to be three), and one War of the Worlds later, and he’s still going strong. His famous base jump from a motorcycle—after driving straight off a cliff, naturally—in M:I 7 was proof that the old man (no offense) has still got it.
While many 60 plus year olds are nursing hip injuries, it’s refreshing to see Cruise out kicking ass. The question is, how exactly has he seemingly maintained peak performance for so freaking long? Here’s everything you need to know.
About the Experts:
Sean Sullivan, CSCS is a certified personal trainer with his BS in Exercise Science, and the Director of Health and Performance at Matterhorn Fit. He specializes in corrective exercise, functional fitness, and body composition.
Imashi Fernando, MS, RD, CDCES is a registered dietitian who works in a large hospital system as a clinical dietitian and provides one-on-one nutrition counseling through her virtual private practice, Brown Sugar Nutrition PLLC.
He’s Always Active
Like Cruise’s X bio, and an overflow of memes and montage videos point out, the dude runs. A lot. Whether the action star is sprinting away from an explosion, an alien invasion, or straight down the side of a building, according to a Rotten Tomatoes report “as the number of feet Tom runs increases, so do the critical accolades.”
As you’d guess, the guy puts in work on the treadmill. But it takes a bit more than running to prep for stunts like hanging from an in-flight airplane (not once, but eight takes in a row for M:I 5). When Men’s Health asked Cruise how he stays young, he pointed back to the variety in his routine: “Sea-kayaking, caving…fencing, treadmill, weights…rock climbing, hiking…I jog…I do so many different activities.”
Regularly switching up cardio and strength work is a great way to challenge both the body and mind. “When the body is forced to continually adapt to a new stimulus, the brain forms new neural pathways in response to the new stimulus,” says personal trainer Sean Sullivan, CSCS. Variety can also help to suss out any weaknesses—like mobility or strength deficits—and improve them.
Plus, having fun with movement will inevitably keep you engaged as you age, adds Sullivan. “Movement shouldn’t feel like a chore. Tennis, pickleball, hiking, swimming, and skiing can keep you moving while making your routine more well-rounded.”
He’s Chasing Gains at the Gym (and on Set)
To move like Cruise, you have to strength train. Simon Pegg’s (who co-starred in MI:7 with Cruise) trainer, Nick Lower, told GQ that Cruise trains religiously. “There is no bullshit, he’s in top condition all the time,” Lower said.
“Strength training becomes increasingly important as you age to both maintain and build muscle mass,” explains Sullivan. Strength training can improve your functional fitness (your ability to complete daily tasks with ease). It also can help you maintain good posture and healthy ranges of motion for common injury-prone areas like the shoulders, hips, and knees, Sullivan notes.
To build the kind of efficient mobility and strength one would need to, say, climb a skyscraper on your average workday, Sullivan says a combination of upper and lower body compound, functional, and explosive lifts is key.
Cruise also puts a heavy emphasis on the eccentric training (or lowering portion of an exercise), according to Lower. “He uses this very expensive, high-end machine that instead of just being a normal chest press machine, for example, it works you on your eccentric load, pushing you back,” Lower told GQ.
You can train eccentrics by slowing down the lowering phase of any exercise. For example, taking three seconds to lower into a lunge, then exploding upwards for one second. “Eccentric training is an effective way to increase the time a muscle is under tension, causing the muscle to break down and fatigue faster,” says Sullivan.
He Loves a Good Snack
With a busy schedule on set, Cruise stays energized with healthy snacks. According to Newshub, the actor eats a ton of small snacks throughout the day, including freeze-dried organic blueberries and nuts.
His co-star Pegg revealed to E! News that Cruise’s personal chefs were available to the whole crew for Mission: Impossible—Rogue Nation. “[They would prepare] these lovely little dates filled with peanut butter and sprinkled with coconut for snacks, and these little balls of truffle that were great,” Pegg said.
Snacking between meals is a good way to keep your blood sugar (and thus, energy up), registered dietitian Imashi Fernando, MS, RD, CDCES previously told The Edge. “A healthy snack includes a mix of protein, healthy fat, and complex carbs which work together to provide energy, promote satiety, and balance blood sugar,” she said.
He Eats Extremely Clean
While old reports (dating back to 2008) that link Cruise with a David Beckham-devised diet of grilled foods, no carbs, and 1200 calories daily are still circulating, Pegg debunked those rumors back in 2015. He told E! News that Cruise always eats clean and healthy, but it’s “insanely good food, which wasn’t like boring rabbit food or a protein shake.”
On set, Cruise’s chefs prepared healthy fare including “great stews” and a range of healthy snacks. While the crew was largely grateful to partake in Cruise’s chef-prepared meals, “occasionally at the end of the day, you’d eat the chocolate on your bed pillow because we couldn’t resist it,” Pegg told E! News. “But Tom never did. Tom is disciplined to a T. It’s amazing.”
He Avoids Added Sugar
“I love sugar, but I can’t eat it because when I’m training, I’m doing all these movies—so I send it to everyone,” Cruise said on The Late Late Show With James Corden. He famously sends his co-stars cakes, hoping to snag a vicarious sugar high. “I wait for the calls…like, tell me about it,” he added.
Cruise steering clear of sugar, particularly added sugar, isn’t the worst idea, according to Fernando. “A diet high in added sugars is a known risk factor for insulin resistance, weight gain, and poor metabolic health all of which are predictors of decreased longevity (1, 2),” she explains. “Additionally added sugars have been linked to biological markers of aging like oxidative stress and alterations in the gut microbiome—which plays a crucial role in overall health (3, 4).”