The White House
President George W. Bush
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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
March 20, 2008

President Bush Discusses National President's Challenge
East Garden

  Presidential Remarks

1:09 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, all. Please be seated. I'm honored to be joined by members of the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports. And today I've got an announcement to make as to how to encourage our fellow citizens to exercise more.

First, I do want to thank the Chairman of this Council, John Burke. His business is to make mountain bikes, Trek mountain bikes. (Laughter.) I use Trek mountain bikes. (Laughter.) That's not why he's the Chairman. (Laughter.) But I like to exercise a lot. And I hope my fellow citizens learn to love exercise as well. It's good for your mind, exercise is good for your body, and it's good for your soul. If you ride mountain bikes, make sure you keep your eyes on the road -- (laughter) -- because sometimes you can go over the handlebars -- (laughter) -- which I have done.

I want to thank the members of the Council for their good work to promote physical fitness. I believe physical fitness is a vital issue for our country. Nearly two-thirds of American adults are overweight or obese. That's too many. More than half of American adults do not get enough physical activity to realize the health benefits. Not enough people are exercising. The benefits include a lower risk for many serious conditions, ranging from heart disease to diabetes to depression.

America's young people are three times more likely to be overweight than they were three decades ago. Lack of physical fitness places a huge financial burden on our nation. Diseases linked to unhealthy habits drive up the price of health care for all Americans.

So we're encouraging Americans to take personal responsibility for their own health. And one way we're doing so is through the Healthier U.S. Initiative. Now this is an initiative I announced in 2002. And the key -- program had four key components.

First, be physically active every day. People say, I don't have time to be physically active every day. Well, my suggestion is, make time. Secondly, eat well. Thirdly, get preventive screenings. And fourthly, don't do stupid things to your body -- like drugs and tobacco and excessive alcohol.

Today, we're unveiling a new way to encourage people across the United States to boost their physical activity, and to have some fun doing it. It's called the National President's Challenge. I appreciate very much the Acting Surgeon General Steve Galson is with us, and the person who went to the Press Club and kind of lent a little extra stuff to the announcement, and that would be Eli Manning. He helped kick off this initiative. He probably thought he'd be -- not having to deal with kickoffs any time after the Super Bowl. (Laughter.) But I want to thank you all very much for helping to highlight an interesting and exciting and a fun way for people to realize the benefits of physical activity.

So here's how it works. First, you can go online at, and you can sign up to participate. You can sign up as an individual, or you can sign up as a group. This would be kind of a fun way to work out together. The deadline, by the way, for signing up is April the 3rd. So get on your web page there, and sign up.

Secondly, you get to decide how you're going to meet your physical fitness goal. In other words, you set a goal, and then you pick the exercise or activity. And there's about a hundred different activities to choose from, ranging from gardening or skydiving. (Laughter.) So I suspect my father will be signing up for skydiving. (Laughter.) Mother wants him to sign up for gardening. (Laughter.)

Thirdly, start exercising. If you're an adult, then that means 30 minutes of activity a day, five days a week. Or if you're a kid, 60 minutes. It's just not that hard to do if you prioritize and discipline yourself. You've got six weeks of activity to meet the challenge -- in other words, this ends on May the 15th.

Fourth, you keep track of your activities. In other words, there's the -- on the website there's an activity log that will help make it easier to track whether or not you're accumulating enough points to get an award.

And that's the fifth step. Individuals who meet their fitness goals can receive certificates and medals. Schools that meet their goals will be honored. And when you register, be sure to include the state you're from, because all of us here -- up here on the stage will be watching to see which state has the highest percentage of participants. And of course there will be proper recognition for the state that does the best. I suspect Texas will do very well. (Laughter.) I certainly hope so.

I want to thank the members of the President's Physical -- Council on Physical Fitness and Sports for leading the effort. I really appreciate your care about the country. I want to thank you for thinking innovatively about how to encourage our fellow citizens to become active. I wish my citizens the fellow best as they sign up for this exciting new challenge. Have good exercise, have fun, and remember, you'll have a healthy tomorrow when you do so. God bless. (Applause.)

END 1:15 P.M. EDT

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