According to Professor Tim Blessing, who has studied presidential fitness since 1972, "Presidents fixate on exercise for a number of reasons. It’s a source of stress relief for the man holding down what is arguably the world’s highest pressure job. It helps elevate the mood. It can make those doing the exercising appear sportsmanlike, i.e. strong and presidential. Or, like Clinton’s designation as the fast food president or Obama’s fondness for pickup basketball, it can project the image of an everyman."
Not to mention that the pure routine of regular exercise has kept presidents steady over the years. Says Blessing, “It wasn’t so much that they were doing exercise so that they’re better in the office — rather their lives are so organized that keeping fit is like another box they check off. For them, exercise is just something they should be doing and they do it.”
He also notes that few of the United States’ 43 presidents have been out of shape. The exceptions? William Howard Taft, weighing roughly 350 pounds, who got stuck in the White House bathtub more than once. Grover Cleveland didn’t exercise and was a heavy smoker. And Franklin Pierce drank too much.
But most have incorporated physical activity into their daily lives. Thomas Jefferson famously said, “Leave all the afternoon for exercise and recreation, which are as necessary as reading.”
So, who're the top five fittest presidents in our nation's history?
1) Gerald Ford - A standout football player at the U of Michigan, he was courted by the Green Bay Packers to play pro. While in office, he swam every day (in a pool he had constructed on the White House grounds for that specific reason). Whoa.
|Ford in his college days.|
|The consummate sportsman.|
|A perfect-looking lifeguard, for 1927.|
|Props to W, rugby is not for wimps. |
Not so good for the face punch, though.