DALLAS — With the 2008 presidential election weeks away, Gold’s Gym, the world’s leading fitness authority, released an analysis of the 10 fittest presidents throughout American history, taking a look at the role exercise has played in shaping each presidency.
The research revealed that the fitness routines of the 43 leaders who have occupied the White House were as diverse as their various leadership styles.
John Quincy Adams, admired during his day for his Potomac River swims, topped the list as the fittest president of all time.
From bowling to canoeing to the “Hoover Ball” — a sport invented to improve the health of the 31st president, these different activities helped make each president “fit to lead.”
Gold’s Gym has ranked the top 10 fittest presidents but in true democratic fashion, Americans are also invited to cast their vote in a presidential fitness election at goldsgym.com.
The 10 fittest presidents of all-time are:
1. John Quincy Adams — One of the most intelligent and disciplined men to lead the country, Adams kept his body almost as active as his mind with three-to-four mile daily walks and swims in the Potomac
2. George W. Bush — Popularity in the polls might be low, but his body fat percentage is lower. An avid cyclist, he is said to exercise six days a week and steers clear of alcohol and cigarettes.
3. Gerald Ford — The longest-living ex-president. Ford, who died at age 93 in 2006, may have owed some of his longevity to his athleticism.
A former collegiate football star at the University of Michigan, Ford captured MVP honors during his senior year and turned down contracts with the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears for a career in law and politics.
4. Jimmy Carter — Insatiable outdoorsman and author of An Outdoor Journal, since boyhood, Carter has enjoyed physical fitness activities that range from hunting and fishing to mountain climbing and skiing
5. Theodore Roosevelt — Roosevelt fought through a series of childhood ailments with determination and, as an adult, took up a number of physical activities including boxing, horseback riding and hunting — and even became a cowboy.
6. Harry S. Truman — When sworn in, Truman appeared as the picture of health. In addition to installing a horseshoe pit and two bowling lanes at the White House, Truman was an avid walker and swimmer
7. Zachary Taylor — A regular exercise regimen didn’t always center on jogging and strength training. During Zachary Taylor’s day, military activity was a fundamental way to whip your body into shape and Taylor served in the army for 40 years.
8. Thomas Jefferson — One “self-evident truth” that Jefferson believed in was that a person should be both physically and mentally fit. The legendary author of the Declaration of Independence enjoyed horseback riding, fishing and taking long walks.
9. Herbert Hoover — Once called “notoriously lackadaisical” by the New York Times, Hoover’s physician remedied his sedentary behavior with the invention of a challenging combination of tennis and volleyball that employed a medicine ball and an 8-foot-tall net. The game was later dubbed “Hoover Ball” — and Hoover stuck to the regimen, playing nearly every morning at 7 a.m. before official White House business began
10. George Washington — Washington enjoyed jigs and country dancing. As a boy, the Virginia native kept active by canoeing down the Shenandoah River.