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Declared 'Fit for Duty,' President Heads to Texas for Yearly Vacation

Bush's weight gain is attributed to exercise. His stay is to include meetings, fund-raising.

August 03, 2003|Vicki Kemper | Times Staff Writer

CRAWFORD, Texas — President Bush is in excellent health and "fit for duty," his doctors said Saturday, adding that all data from Bush's annual physical "suggest that he will remain so for the rest of his presidency."

Dr. Kenneth H. Cooper, president of Cooper Aerobics Center in Dallas, said the 57-year-old president remained in the "superior fitness category for men his age."

Bush's physical at Bethesda Naval Hospital in Maryland is a yearly event, but White House officials on Saturday used the results to portray the president as active, healthy and vigorous.

Even Bush's gain of 5 pounds -- which brings his weight to 194 on a frame of just under 6 feet -- was touted as evidence of a good fitness routine.

"The weight gain most likely represents muscle mass consistent with strength training," White House spokesman Scott McClellan told reporters traveling with the president on Air Force One.

McClellan noted that Bush's level of body fat stayed the same, 14.5%. Bush's resting heart rate was 45 beats per minute, and his blood pressure measured 110 over 62. His total cholesterol was 167.

A running injury Bush sustained earlier this year, a strained muscle in his right calf, had healed, allowing him to resume his regular jogging routine, McClellan said.

Bush, who actively promotes physical fitness, runs for three miles three times a week and "water jogs" in the White House pool once a week. He also uses an elliptical trainer three times a week and lifts weights twice weekly.

During Bush's physical, he ran two to three miles on a treadmill at a pace of about 7 1/2 minutes per mile.

McClellan said Bush had suffered from aching knees. To strengthen his joints, he takes glucosamine chondroitin.

Dr. Richard A. Tubb, the White House physician, also oversaw Bush's exam.

As a preventive measure, doctors treated several small skin abnormalities on Bush's nose, cheeks and left arm. Such skin lesions and swollen blood vessels are common symptoms of sun exposure.

After his physical, which lasted about three hours, Bush spoke with six military personnel who had been wounded in the Iraq war. The president thanked them for their service, McClellan said.

Saturday afternoon, Bush and the first lady arrived at their Prairie Chapel Ranch, where Bush often revels in running, fishing and chopping wood in the blazing Texas sun.

Bush has been looking forward to his monthlong working vacation, a mix of recreation, White House business, six reelection campaign fund-raisers and short trips to at least 13 cities around the country.

On Friday, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld is scheduled to meet with Bush over lunch at the ranch.

Next week, Bush plans to spend the good part of two days in Southern California. When he's not raising campaign money, the president is to meet with military personnel in Miramar and visit the Santa Monica Mountains to highlight a national parks legacy project.

One of the first significant events on Bush's Crawford calendar is a meeting Aug. 13 with his economic team. He said last week he intended to talk up the nation's economy in speeches and events around the country this month.

Bush wasted no time, using his Saturday morning radio address to tout what he said were his administration's contributions to a strengthening economy.

"We are starting to see the results of our actions," Bush said. "My administration's economists believe that if we had not passed tax relief, our unemployment rate would have been nearly one percentage point higher, and as many as 1.5 million Americans would not have the jobs they have today."

Indirectly, Bush also acknowledged the bad news of last week's unemployment report, saying it showed "that many Americans who want to work are still having trouble finding a job."

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