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Fitness Routines of the Most Physically Fit U.S. Presidents

A lot has been reported about the fitness routines of United States Presidents, particularly over the past 35 years. A president has access to health and wellness resources most Americans could ever dream of having at their disposal. However, as the leader of the free world, no single individual has a schedule as frenetic as the U.S. President.

Trainers Identify Healthy Lifestyle Habits for Busy Schedules

In honor of President’s Day on Feb. 15, Fitness Together®(FT), a national franchise brand that offers one-on-one personal training and nutrition counseling, looks at the routines of some of the nation’s fittest presidents. FT is honoring these presidents while also reminding Americans that if the Commander-in-Chief can find the time to be active and workout regularly, certainly millions of others can build in time to lead a healthy lifestyle as well.

It’s not easy to determine which president has been the most physically fit, but President Obama definitely ranks near the top of the list. Since the age of 22, he’s made exercising a part of his daily routine, averaging at least 45 minutes a day, six days a week. Obama combines various types of exercise, alternating between basketball, cardio-workouts and strength training.

Another candidate in the running for the most athletic president is Gerald Ford. He was the starting center and linebacker for the University of Michigan. After declining two NFL offers, one from the Green Bay Packers and the other from the Detroit Lions, Ford maintained his fitness levels with a daily swim, golf and tennis while he was in office.

“Taking time out for a workout is something many of the modern-day presidents have in common. Americans can emulate their regimen by setting realistic goals,” says Stacy Adams, owner of FT in Georgetown. “Begin by dedicating just two or three days a week to physical activity and up the count as time goes on.”

George W. Bush, ranked in the top two-percent of men his age for cardiovascular fitness, continues to run on average three miles a day, four times a week, and even competes in some marathons. On the days he doesn’t run, Bush still makes an effort to lift weights, swim, stretch, golf or bike.

“Presidents obviously have Type-A personalities that drive them to be the best they can be, but for most of us, it’s about living a balanced lifestyle,” says Rick Coe, owner of two FT studios in Bethesda and Potomac, Md. “Whether it’s changing up fitness routines, trying out new, healthful recipes or incorporating alternative therapies like massage, the key is to have variety in your wellness activities.”

In President Reagan’s “How to Stay Fit Program”, he identified three main components for living a healthy lifestyle. Reagan believed every fitness program should pair an outdoor component, like swimming in the ocean, horseback riding and manual labor, with an indoor activity, such as lifting weights or letting stress out on a punching bag. The trick is to keep exercise routines fresh, fun and brief. The last component in Reagan’s physical fitness plan is to eat in moderation and eat a well-rounded diet with a blend of fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins.

President Bill Clinton was infamous for his morning jogs and frequent stops at McDonald’s, but more recently, he attributes his more than 20-pound weight loss to his vegan diet consisting mainly of fruits, vegetables and beans.

Sleep is also important to an individual’s overall health and well-being. Most sleep experts recommend at least 7-to-9 hours of sleep every day. President Millard Fillmore never deviated from his sleep routine, and lived to be 74 in the 1800s.

“The bottom line is wellness is a commitment,“ adds Adams. “We know diet and exercise requires time and dedication, but if our presidents can make time, so can the rest of us.”

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