Health Habits of the U.S. Presidential Candidates

October 27, 2012 Comments Off

A busy life can trip up even the most enthusiastic fitness buff, and most of us face a constant challenge: how do we maintain strong health habits in the face of all our obligations? The 2012 U.S. presidential candidates, Gov. Mitt Romney and Pres. Barack Obama, may disagree on many important points, but they share a dedication to health habits for good fitness. They both prove that strong health habits are possible even for the busiest of us.

 Obama’s and Romney’s Health Habits: Eating

Almost by definition, the presidential candidates must dine on the go. In fact, their dining choices are often part of their campaigning — meeting small business owners, shaking hands with fellow patrons, or hosting photo ops.

According to Politico’s recent book about the 2012 campaign, Romney favors turkey breast, rice and broccoli. He also strips the cheese off pizza and the skin off chicken. As a practicing Mormon, Romney drinks neither coffee nor tea, but he does enjoy hot chocolate as a pick-me-up. As for his dietary “vices”? His wife Ann Romney told Parade Magazine, he “loves cold cereal. And caffeine-free Diet Coke.”

Obama has a more robust appetite, enjoying such delights as burgers, chili and Hawaiian-style pizza, but he has an ace in the hole when it comes to healthy eating: his wife Michelle is a big believer in good health habits. White House chef Sam Kass revealed at a U.S. Department of Education event that the Obamas typically eat healthful foods like spinach, broccoli, green beans, fish, chicken and brown rice. Overall, “they have a very balanced diet,” he says. Reportedly, the Obamas follow a 90/10 eating rule: as long as 90% of what they eat is balanced and healthy, they’re fine indulging on the rest.

Health Habit Lesson: one of the best health habits practiced by both U.S. presidential candidates is balance. A little indulgence here and there is fine, but it’s important to make smart and healthful choices at more meals than not.


Obama’s and Romney’s Health Habits: Exercise

The Obamas are dedicated to their physical fitness. According to their personal fitness trainer, Cornell McClellan, they never miss exercise. President Obama told Men’s Health Magazine that he spends 45 minutes six days a week with a mixture of cardio (including the treadmill) and weights. The President also enjoys sporty activities requiring movement and coordination, like running, basketball and boxing. That’s also a great prescription for relieving stress, as Obama can probably attest! In fact, Obama is known for always playing a game of basketball on election days.

Romney reportedly runs three miles every morning. Similar to Obama, he aims for about 40 minutes of cardio daily. He’s even been known to run around his hotel if no equipment or jogging trails are available! That’s dedication. Considering Romney also has five sons, it should come as no surprise that sports and physical activities are frequently part of family activities. On vacation, the Romneys hold “Romney Olympics” with events like a mini-triathlon.


Health Habit Lesson: daily activity makes a world of difference, whether it’s in a gym or just in a hotel hallway. Just make sure to move! Both U.S. presidential candidates also exercise in the morning, opting for the energy boost it provides over the rest of the day.

 Bonus: The Health Habits of U.S. Vice Presidential Candidates

So we’ve seen how the U.S. presidential candidates manage their fitness with great health habits while staying busy campaigning, but what about their political partners, Paul Ryan and Joe Biden?

Paul Ryan is well-known for his fitness regimen. He’s an avid mountain climber (he’s topped 40 of Colorado’s 54 peaks standing 14,000 feet or higher!) and a fan of the popular P90X workout routine. He’s one of the most frequently seen faces in the Capitol Hill gym. Ryan told Politico that his body fat percentage hovers “between 6 and 8 percent.” If only he could bring tax rates so low!

Considering that Biden is more than 20 years older than Ryan, he remains remarkably fit. Biden favors strength training, with occasional cardio workouts. His training routine is probably less strenuous than any of the others, but with running and biking, the 69-year-old manages to stay very fit for his age.

Health Habit Lesson: A fitness level like Ryan’s takes real dedication, but the most important health habit of the U.S. vice presidential candidates is simple: do something. Biden proves that basic good fitness can be enjoyed by anyone who practices even simple health habits.

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