Arnold Schwarzenegger Opens Up About Girlfriend Heather Milligan: 'I Think the World of Her' (Exclusive)

Ahead of the release of his motivational book 'Be Useful,' the 'Terminator' actor spoke to PEOPLE about his bond with girlfriend Heather Milligan

<p>Andreas Rentz/Getty</p> Heather Milligan and Arnold Schwarzenegger in Zurich on Sept. 30, 2015

Andreas Rentz/Getty

Heather Milligan and Arnold Schwarzenegger in Zurich on Sept. 30, 2015

Arnold Schwarzenegger is opening up about his decade-long relationship with girlfriend Heather Milligan.

During a wide-ranging chat in this week's issue of PEOPLE surrounding the upcoming release of his motivational book Be Useful: Seven Tools for Life, the 76-year-old actor says his relationship with Milligan, a Los Angeles-based physical therapist, "is fantastic."

“We have so many things in common,” the Terminator star says. “I think the world of her. I love that she’s into working. She’s clearly independent. She just is driven as hell.”

Schwarzenegger credits Milligan, 48, for putting herself through college and a master's degree in business with student loans and jobs like bartending, noting that she "grew up tough." He also said admires how she is the "driving force" in her family, having cared for both of her late parents as they battled cancer two years apart.

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<em>Be Useful: Seven Tools for Life</em> by Arnold Schwarzenegger
Be Useful: Seven Tools for Life by Arnold Schwarzenegger

Related: Arnold Schwarzenegger Says His 'Chapter' with Maria Shriver 'Will Continue Forever': I Have 'Love for Her' (Exclusive)

Schwarzenegger adds that Milligan recently returned from Nebraska, where she was helping care for her grandmother. "Every night, she's with her grandmother on the phone for at least a half an hour," he says. "I mean, that's when you get to know a person, the heart they have."

Milligan and Schwarzenegger met in 2012 following his shoulder surgery as he was preparing to film 2013’s Escape Plan with Sylvester Stallone (who, coincidentally, had shoulder surgery the same day).

Wanting to get in fighting shape in just three months before cameras rolled, the star asked his surgeon for a recommendation.  "I said, 'I got to go do this movie, and I bring a lot of punches and I have fights with Sly and I want to have my act together.'"

"And so he says, 'There's only one (person), it's Heather — any athlete, I always send them to her, because she's the only one that really knows what they’re talking about.' So I went to her, and then after my therapy was finished, after I was finished with the movie, I called her back and took her out for lunch to say thank you. And then one thing led to the next.”

<p>Katherine Schwarzenegger/ Instagram</p> Maria Shriver and Arnold Schwarzenegger with their children

Katherine Schwarzenegger/ Instagram

Maria Shriver and Arnold Schwarzenegger with their children

Related: Arnold Schwarzenegger Reveals How He's Changed at 76: 'I Think More About People's Feelings' (Exclusive)

Milligan has expanded her business over the past decade and today runs Elite OrthoSport, one of the largest physical therapy clinics on the West Side of Los Angeles, says Schwarzenegger, who enjoys dropping in to chat up clients that span NFL players, NBA stars and UFC champions.

“I schmooze with them while they're getting therapy, because I admire them, they're great athletes," he says, adding with a grin, “Even though a lot of them make me feel like a little chicken.”

Schwarzenegger also opened up about his friendly relationship with ex-wife Maria Shriver. The former couple's divorce was finalized in 2021, after Shriver, 67, filed a decade prior.

The pair continue to regularly make joint plans with their children Katherine, 33, Christina, 32, Patrick, 30, and Christopher, 26, including a recent celebration for Patrick's 30th birthday.

Schwarzenegger says he and Shriver, who are now grandparents to daughter Katherine’s children — Lyla, 3, and Eloise, 16 months, with her husband Chris Pratt — prioritize such family moments, despite having separate lives now.

"We always communicate about the kids, about the holidays, about birthday parties and Mother’s Day parties and Christmas," he tells PEOPLE. "Even though it’s a different relationship, there’s no reason for me to feel anything other than love for her.”

Be Useful: Seven Tools for Life is out Oct. 10, and available for preorder now on

For more from Arnold Schwarzenegger, pick up this week's issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday.

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Read the original article on People.