Bush Urges Nation to Follow His Lead and Get Fit
WASHINGTON, June 20 â€” President Bush told Americans today to exercise more and to eat less, and to stop using drugs, tobacco and excessive amounts of alcohol.
The 55-year-old president, a teetotaler who can bench press 185 pounds for five repetitions and run a 6:45-mile for three miles, made his comments as part of a White House initiative to encourage fitness among sedentary Americans. He held himself up as an example.
"Exercise is part of my daily life," Mr. Bush said in a speech on the White House South Lawn, which had been turned into a "Fitness Expo" with a rock-climbing wall, a batting cage and booths offering free blood pressure and body fat tests. "It kind of helps me deal with the stress a little better. After I get a good run in, I even like the press corps a lot better."
As part of the initiative, Mr. Bush signed an executive order directing federal agencies to develop policies to promote fitness. He also appointed a group of athletes, doctors and executives to the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports. The chairman is Lynn Swann, the former wide receiver for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Mr. Bush exhorted Americans to exercise daily, the way he does. "How about just walking 30 minutes a day?" Mr. Bush said. "That's pretty simple."
He added that he expects the same of his staff.
"I insist that they take some time off, out of their daily grind, to get some exercise," Mr. Bush said. "I found them to be better able to communicate and happier on their job when they take some time."
On Saturday, the president is to participate in a three-mile run in Washington to further promote his initiative. About 400 members of the Bush administration have signed up for the same run, and the question among some of the fittest staffers is whether they should finish before the president or allow him to win.