- The Washington Times - Saturday, July 30, 2005

BETHESDA (AP) — President Bush was pronounced “fit for duty” after an annual checkup yesterday that showed the 59-year-old commander in chief, an avid mountain bike rider, had lost 8 pounds since his last physical exam in December.

“I’m feeling pretty good,” Mr. Bush said as he left the National Naval Medical Center.

In December, the president weighed 199.6 pounds, six pounds more than in the summer of 2003. He attributed the weight gain to eating too many doughnuts during his re-election campaign.

Yesterday, the scale showed the nearly 6-foot Mr. Bush at 191.6 pounds.

A four-page medical summary issued by the White House said the president remains in the “superior” fitness category for a man of his age.

A separate statement signed by nine doctors who conducted the physical said there is “every reasonable expectation that he will remain fit for duty for the duration of his presidency.”

Doctors prodded and probed the president for a little more than three hours, checking his heart, lungs, eyes, muscles and skin.

Doctors used liquid nitrogen to freeze a noncancerous skin growth on his neck. The medical summary indicated the president has skin lesions consistent with sun damage and recommended that he use sun screen and wear a hat.

The president’s overall cholesterol count remains at a healthy level, despite a slight rise to 178 from 170 seven months ago. There was a small drop in his high-density lipoprotein (HDL) count, or “good” cholesterol, and a small rise in his low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or “bad” cholesterol. Still, both levels were within healthy ranges.

Doctors said cholesterol-lowering drugs were not necessary.

“He’s in superior health,” White House spokesman Dana Perino said. “I think you all know he’s got a terrific fitness routine. It’s a good example for Americans.”

Other information from Mr. Bush’s checkup included:

• His body fat percentage fell to 15.79 from 18.25. It was 14.5 percent at his physical in August 2003.

• His ability to see at a distance was 20/20 in both eyes. He uses reading glasses at times to see more clearly up-close.

• A prostate screening test registered at 0.5. A desirable level is anything under 4.

• The president suffers from occasional reflux of stomach acid after drinking coffee or eating peppermint, two items that doctors recommended he reduce or eliminate from his diet.

• His exercise regimen includes pedaling his mountain bike at up to 18 mph for 15 miles to 20 miles a week; doing low-impact “hill work” on a treadmill; and free weight resistance training and stretching.

• He smokes a cigar now and then, takes a daily multivitamin, low-dose aspirin, Omega 3 fatty acids linked to lower heart disease and glucosamine/chondroitin to ease stiffness in his joints.

After his exam, Mr. Bush met for more than an hour with 14 Marines wounded in Iraq and relatives of a Marine who was wounded in Afghanistan. The Marine was having a medical procedure when the president was at the center.

“It’s a remarkable experience to meet with these incredibly courageous souls who keep their spirit,” the president said before flying back to the White House aboard Marine One. “I met with their parents. I met with the healers who work here at Bethesda.”

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