- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 1, 2006

A team of the best doctors in the world poked and probed President Bush for nearly four hours yesterday, but they couldn’t find much wrong with the 60-year-old fitness buff, who has never missed a day of work because of illness in more than 5 1/2 years.

The president, though, has shrunk in stature a bit — his 2001 physical listed him at 72 inches; but this year, he measured up at 5 feet 11 inches, down a quarter inch from last year’s 5 feet 113/4 inches.

Mr. Bush also packed on nearly 5 pounds, but had an easy explanation for the gain.

“Probably ate too many birthday cakes,” the president told reporters at the end of his annual medical examination at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda. By spokesman Tony Snow’s count, Mr. Bush received seven cakes during the week of his birthday, which was July 6.

But the spokesman, who had a serious bout with cancer last year, said that despite the few added pounds, “He’s still healthier than we are.”

During the exam, doctors treated a small actinic keratosis — a precancerous lesion — on his left arm with liquid nitrogen. They recommended he protect his skin by wearing sunscreen and wide-brimmed hats. Other noncancerous skin growths were noted but not treated.

“The president remains in excellent health and fit for duty. All data suggest that he will remain so for the duration of his presidency,” a summary of the medical report said.

Mr. Bush weighed in at 196 pounds. The heaviest he has been during his presidency was 199.6 pounds in 2004, which he attributed to “too many doughnuts” during his re-election campaign; his lowest weight was in 2002, when he was 189 pounds.

His body fat ratio was 16.8 percent, up from last year’s 15.79 percent but well below his 2004 rate of 18.25 percent.

The president’s resting heart rate also put him, again, into the “superior” fitness category for men in his age group, coming in at 46 beats per minute. Well-trained athletes measure 40 to 60 beats per minute.

Mr. Bush’s cholesterol rate was also low at 174; only his 2001 physical had him lower, at 170. This year’s number is down four points from last year and well below the doctor-recommended level of below 200.

His blood pressure was 108/68. The normal blood pressure for a 60-year-old man is 130/90, so the president easily beat that mark this year.

Since he turned 40 and quit drinking alcohol, Mr. Bush has become somewhat of a fitness junkie, working out nearly every day. Well into his 50s, he maintained a 7-minute mile as he jogged three to four times a week.

Now, the president bicycles 15 to 20 miles per week and exercises six times a week, doing hours of “hill work” on a treadmill, along with elliptical training, free weights and stretching.

The “social history” section of the physical examination report said Mr. Bush smokes “an occasional cigar” and enjoys diet sodas and coffee. But he takes no prescription medications.

After his physical, Mr. Bush met with 27 military men and women at the hospital and presented Purple Hearts to seven of them.

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