Red vs. Blue: The Fittest Presidents
Here's a brief history of the nation's Athletes-in-Chief - and how the current candidates stack up.
Meet the Oval Office all-stars
Keys: Not affiliated; Republican party; Democratic party.
- George Washington (Not affiliated). Legend has it he was strong enough to chop down his father's cherry tree, but Washington was known for his physical size and strength. He was one of Virginia's best horsemen, and his muscles
were intimidating on the battlefield.
- John Quincy Adams (Not affiliated). Adams was known to take daily 5 am swims in the Potomac River - completely nude.
- Abraham Lincoln (Republican party). The old rail-splitter grew up on hard physical labor, farming, and performing odd jobs wherever needed. His hard-working background remained part of his identity throughout his political career.
- Herbert Hoover (Republican party). President Hoover's physician invented a volleyball-tennis hybrid to keep the commander-in-chief fit. Played with heavy medicine balls on the White House lawn, "Hooverball" is still played today.
- Dwight Eisenhower (Republican party). Eisenhower was a passionate golfer and popularized the game during and after his presidency. He was later inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame for his contributions to the sport.
- John. F. Kennedy (Democratic party). JFK institutionalized the concept of fitness like none before him, expanding the President's Council on Fitness and publishing his national fitness platform in Sports Illustrated.
- Gerald Ford (Republican party). As president, Gerald Ford wasn't exactly known for his physical grace. But as a former University of Michigan football player. Ford was one of the nation's top linebackers and led the Wolverines to
two national championships.
- Ronald Reagan (Republican party). After almost being assassinated in 1981, Reagan started regularly lifting weights to help recover. In his 70s, the president regularly used his regime as an example to get senior citizens active.
- George H. W. Bush (Republican party). The father-and-son presidential combo both played baseball for Yale and remained active through their presidencies. The younger Bush also ran a 3:44 marathon in the early 90s.
The hall of shame
- Andrew Jackson. The hot-headed president was a fan of alcohol and tobacco, and his sport of choice was dueling. He likely experienced lead poisoning from the bullets lodged in his body from several duels.
- Grover Cleveland. A lifetime smoker and heavy drinker, Cleveland once tried to limit himself to four beers per day - but ultimately decided that was too restrictive.
- William Taft. A notorious yo-yo dieter, Taft's weight often hovered well over 300 pounds on his 5'11" frame.
The race is on! In a race where healthcare is a hot-button issue, how do today's candidates stay fit?
- Republican party: 1) Mitt Romney. Mitt romney is said to be in excellent health for his age. The Mormon Republican nominee is a lifelong abstainer from alcohol and tobacco. Romney's exercise of choice? The elliptical. He also
occasionally runs on the treadmill; 2) Paul Ryan. Paul Ryan is perhaps the fittest vice presidential candidate ever. He follows the P90X workout regime, though his claims about his body fat percentage and marathon times have been
- Democratic party: 1) Barack Obama. President Obama is a notorious gym rat and has been known to work out multiple times per day, and up to six days per week. He's a basketball fanatic and also lifts weights several times per
week. An off-and-on smoker for several decades. President Obama recently kicked the habit - hopefully for good. The president's wife is also famed for her commitment to fitness and is a big proponent of strength training; 2) Joe
Biden. The oldest of the four candidates at almost 70, Joe Biden still maintains an active lifestyle with a blend of running, cycling, and resistance training focusing on his core.
Greatist | Think you have what it takes to compete with the Nation's top dog? Let us know: Would you follow in the fitness footsteps of a past president, or create your own presidential fitness routine?
Souces: http://www.sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1132077/index.html; http://www.pbs.org/georgewashington/father/appearance.html; http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20120809/SPORTS0201/208090331;
http://golfweek.com/news/2009/nov/02/dwight-d-eisenhower-golf-white-house; http://www.harvardsquarelibrary.org/poets/adams_jquincy.php; http://www.baseball-almanac.com/prx_qgb.shtml; http://hoover.archives.gov/education/
hooverball.html; http://www.ushistory.org/us/43a.asp; http://www.fitnessmagazine.com/workout/real-plans/stay-fit/americas-10-unhealthiest-presidents; http://americanhistory.si.edu/exhibitions/small_exhibition.cfm?key=1267&exkey=
696&pagekey=701; http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/02/08/15/for-romney-a-new-running-mate-may-mean-a-new-less-elliptical-workout-too; http://nymag.com/daily/intel/2008/07/barack_obamas_gym_routine_reve.html;
http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0812/79805_Page2.html; http://www.parade.com/news/2011/01/16-reagan-fitness.html; http://www.eaminer.com/article/celebrity-marathon-runner-george-w-bush; http://jfklibrary.org/JFK/JFK-