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Bush Urges Americans to Live Healthier Lives - 2002-06-20

President Bush wants Americans to exercise more and get regular check-ups to improve their health. Mr. Bush said that will cut medical costs and allow more people to live longer, healthier lives.

It was fitness day at the White House Thursday with weight machines and aerobic dancing on the South Lawn as President Bush kicked-off his "Healthier US" program to get more Americans to exercise and eat better.

"This initiative is part of this administration's ongoing commitment to raising awareness about the benefits of exercise and healthy choices. Exercise is a part of my daily life. It kind of helps me deal with the stress a little better," Mr. Bush said.

Calling exercise an important part of a balanced life, the president encourages his staff to work-out during the day at a weight room in a neighboring building or a more exclusive gym inside the White House.

With nearly half of all American adults saying they do no exercise at all, the goal is not to build athletes, but to get more people to improve their health through modest, regular physical activity and better eating habits. "We are doing a better job with heart disease and cancer and diabetes. We are living longer than any generation in history. Yet we can still improve, and we can do more. And it is not all that difficult to do. When it comes to your health, even little steps can make a big difference," he said.

Some of those little steps include a half-hour walk or using a push mower to cut your grass instead of riding a tractor. The program encourages parents to get outside and play with their children. It recommends regular flu shots and healthier living by avoiding tobacco and drug abuse.

"Tobacco use is the single-most preventable cause of death and disease in America. Drug and alcohol abuse destroys our families and lives and hopes of our fellow Americans. Our message is clear: avoiding tobacco, drugs, and excessive alcohol can save your life," Mr. Bush said.

The president continues his physical fitness kick with senior citizen exercises in Florida Friday. He and several hundred White House staffers will take part in a three-mile race Saturday before a youth baseball game on the White House lawn Sunday.