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Bush Asks Slothful Adults in U.S. to Get the Sweat Out

Health: Take a hike. Ride your bike. Make the U.S. 'stronger and healthier,' the president implores. Obesity is just plain deadly.


WASHINGTON -- President Bush will launch a physical fitness initiative next week, hoping to coax some sweat out of the estimated 50% of adult Americans who do not exercise at all, the White House said Wednesday.

As a part of the Healthier U.S. Initiative, Bush is declaring a ''fee-free weekend'' in all national parks June 22 and 23 ''to encourage Americans to hike, walk or just visit our national treasures,'' White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said.

He said Bush, an avid runner who also works out with weights, was motivated by statistics which show that nearly half of all adults in the United States get virtually no exercise.

''And 7 out of 10 do so infrequently,'' Fleischer noted in his daily White House briefing. Fleischer plays baseball and has been spotted working out in hotel gyms on trips he has taken with the president..

The five major conditions associated with obesity--heart disease, cancer, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and diabetes--kill more than 1.7 million Americans each year and account for more than two-thirds of all U.S. deaths, he said.

Next Thursday, Bush is scheduled to host a fitness exposition on the South Lawn of the White House, where he also will introduce new members of the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports.

The following day, Bush is to visit seniors in Orlando, Fla., to discuss how age-appropriate exercise promotes healthy aging.

June 22, Bush is scheduled to host a three-mile ''fitness challenge'' run at Ft. McNair in Washington for the White House staff and the Cabinet. His wife, Laura, who doesn't run, will lead a 1.5-mile walk.

Fleischer said the president hopes the fitness initiative will ''help our nation become stronger and healthier.''

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