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White House workouts: How the Presidents break a sweat (deliberately)



We’ve seen our nation’s leaders sweating over decisions at their Oval Office desks or in front of the cameras at press conferences, but only occasionally at their workouts of choice.

Did you know that Franklin D. Roosevelt built the White House’s first swimming pool in 1933 to train his upper body? Or that George H. W. Bush had a basketball court installed on the grounds during his tenure in 1991? And if the leader of the free world’s strength is determined by their abs, President Barack Obama’s is seriously six-fold.

In the spirit of President’s Day, here we document a handful of our nation’s leaders hard at work on their health— swimming, running, and shooting a few baskets. —Sarah Sarway

(Photo: Fitness)

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Teddy Roosevelt on a mooseTeddy Roosevelt liked to grab life by the horns, as pictured here, while he rides mooseback in 1900.

(Photo: TIME via


Harry Truman Squats in 1947

President Harry Truman (taking utkatasana?!) on the USS Missouri in 1947. Check his obvious quad strength, balance, and his t-shirt!

(Photo: NPR)


Ronald Reagan on his bikeRonald Reagan liked to hit the pavement on his bicycle. Here he’s pictured with his first wife, Jane, in the early 1940s.



JFK foodball
Although we’re not exactly sure when this photo was taken, it certainly captures JFK’s athleticism (and hunkiness).




Bill_Chelsea_Clinton_runningPresident Bill Clinton’s love for running outdoors has been documented widely, and even called a “Secret Service nightmare.” (Alas, it’s easier to keep a guy safe on the treadmill.)

(Photo: Chelsea Clinton and Bill Clinton jogging in 1997; Photo by Ruth Fremson/AP)


George H W Bush parachutingAfter 85 years, George H. W. Bush was bored of all the golf and running. Here he is in 2009 on a tandem jump out of an airplane.

(Photo: Kevin McDaniel via ABC News)


GWB running in 2002President George W. Bush liked to run, too. Here he is participating in the 2002 President’s Fitness Challenge.

(Photo: Paul Morse for The White House)


Ford doing laps in swimming pool

Gerald Ford, pictured here in 1975, was so proud of the White House’s new swimming pool that he invited the press to watch him do the first christening laps.

(Photo: The Ford Library)


Richard Nixon bowlingWhen Richard Nixon wasn’t otherwise occupied, he liked to knock down pins in the White House bowling alley. (Circa 1970.)



Barack Obama push upsPresident Barack Obama is likely the fittest resident of the Oval Office. He shared with Men’s Health (where he’s twice appeared on the cover) that his daily 45-minute cardio and strength-training workouts first thing in the morning are non-negotiable. He’s seen here, mid-pushup, alongside the Harlem Globetrotters in 2012.

(Photo: Getty Images)


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