In a recent press release, we asked the US presidential candidates and debate moderators to address the obesity epidemic in America. As we try to get America’s leaders to act on this issue, we take a moment to recognize the US politicians who maintain the best physical fitness. The politicians on this list stay fit themselves and help their constituents learn the value of a healthy and active lifestyle.
Samir Becic expressed why it is so important for politicians to stay fit: “America’s leading politicians are in the public eye and have access to other powerful decision makers. They can and should use their unique position to help stop the obesity epidemic that is plaguing our country and directly compromising our status as the leading nation in the world. The men and woman on this list deserve recognition because they are great ambassadors for a healthy lifestyle and they lead by example.”
HFR team, together with its founder Samir Becic, are the first in the county to do in-depth research about the fitness of presidential candidates, top fittest senators, governors, mayors and congresspeople.
Our methodology for creating the list is as follows: We first researched all the available data on hundreds of American politicians, taking into account fitness level, nutritional habits, age, their own medical issues and how they coped with them, and involvement and promotion of healthy lifestyle. Then, we did more extensive research to narrow it down to the final candidates. We used a combination of interviews, internet, library, industry literature, and HFR founder Samir Becic’s knowledge of over 33 years in athletics coupled with his recognition as one of the country’s leading health and fitness experts.
Paul Ryan (Speaker of the House)
Paul Ryan is at the height of his political career and at the top of our list of fittest American politicians. An avid athlete since his youth, when he played basketball, soccer, skied and hiked, Ryan stays active even now as Speaker of the House.
A former personal trainer, Paul only has 6%-8% body fat, works out like a warrior and leads fellow Hill staffers in daily morning sessions of the popular 90-day, body-sculpting program called P90X, which includes pull-ups, sit-ups, lots of cardio, karate, jump training, and yoga. After his father died from heart failure at the age of 55, Ryan dedicated himself to staying in shape to avoid the same fate. He not only exercises but maintains a strict diet as well. His successful career and physical fitness are proof that a lifelong dedication to fitness can lead to great results!
Joe Biden (Vice President)
Because he is currently the Vice President of the United States, it is important for Joe Biden to live a healthy lifestyle in order to cope with the heavy stress and demands of the position. Biden is the oldest politician on our list, which makes his high level of fitness all the more impressive. Fitness and healthy lifestyle are necessary to counteract the effects of aging, and Biden has made sure to do everything it takes to stay fit and serve the country. He makes sure to stay fit by using the Senate gym. In the gym, you can catch him biking, running or just working on core exercises. Biden received an A- on our initial 2016 Presidential Hopeful Report Cards.
Andrew Cuomo (Governor of New York)
The New York Governor is a model leader in fitness because he leads by example and heads initiatives to improve fitness in his state. In fact, Governor Andrew Cuomo loves boxing so much that he has a boxing equipped gym in his house. He often integrates weight training with cardio and jogs around 2 to 3 hours a week. He is also father of three girls, all whom have participated in various sports including soccer and track. In New York, Cuomo officially made Sept. 26 Women’s Health and Fitness Day.
Ben Sasse ( Senator- Nebraska)
The Nebraskan senator is an accomplished sportsman with a long history of competing in athletics with distingished. He was quarterback for University of Oxford and wrestled at Harvard University in freshman & sophomore years.
But his commitment to fitness and athleticism is not just a thing of the past. Governor Sasse runs or lifts weights four times a week, which is the recommended level of physical activity for an adult. To cope with the extra stress and unhealthy lifestyle of campaigning, Sassed tallied 10,400 pushups on his campaign bus, which are about 335 per day. Sounds like a perfect candidate for #Pushupseverywhere!
Barack Obama (President)
Barack Obama makes yet another appearance on our list of fittest politicians. The U.S. President works out daily and his wife, Michelle Obama and their two daughters are equally conscious for their health. Obama eats healthy food and makes sure his family is very healthy as well. His workout includes alternate resistance training, cardio through running and basketball and weight training. Obama has been vocal about his opinion that workouts are the best way to bring harmony between your body and mind.
Rahm Emanuel (Mayor – Chicago)
Three mornings a week, Rahm wakes up early, runs to the gym, and swims a mile in a 50-meter indoor pool. Then he does chest exercises and runs two miles back to his Ravenswood Manor home. The other two mornings, he rides 25 miles on a stationary bike, followed by a 15-minute turn on the elliptical, weights, 100 sit-ups, and 50 pushups. On Saturdays, he bikes 20 miles outdoors. What day of rest? He practices yoga on Sunday. Mayor Emanuel is working on childhood obesity too- he is working in partnership with agencies, foundations, corporations, and other key stakeholders, to give all children in Chicago the childhood they deserve by having access to parks and playgrounds. He is often spotted in activewear around town.
Tulsi Gabbard (U.S. Representative – Hawaii)
The Hawaii congresswoman is relatively new to Washington, but has already joined the country’s fitness elite. In a 2013 interview, Gabbard claimed that she joined Paul Ryan and former congressman Aaron Shock for P90X workout sessions at the Hill gym. Back in Hawaii, Gabbard surfs Waikiki Beach and relaxes via yoga. She uses the strength gained from P90X workouts, the grace and balance of surfing and the discipline she forged during her service in the US armed forces to play capoeira, a Brazilian martial arts that combines dancing and acrobatics. Capoeira combines power, speed, and leverage for a wide variety of kicks, spins, and highly mobile techniques.
Gabbard’s political star is rising and so is her fitness! She notes that her youthful appearance sometimes still gets her confused as a Hill staffer.
Cory Booker (Senator – New Jersey)
Cory Booker makes the list because he is deeply dedicated to spreading the message of public health and fitness to his constituents. The former mayor of Newark and current Junior US Senator out of New Jersey eats a vegetarian diet, works out consistently, and is an active voice for weight loss. To make Americans healthier, politicians need to lead by example in their own lives and use their power to create opportunities for Americans to be healthy. And that’s exactly what Booker has done. He’s an honorary vice chairman of Michelle Obama’s Partnership for a Healthier America. The initiative in his city focuses on better food options and more-active lifestyles. And here’s a man who not only talks the talk, but also walks the walk.
Honorable Mention: Martin O’Malley
Martin O’Malley is the former Governor of Maryland and ran in the 2016 presidential primaries. His commitment to fitness is impressive and the only reason he didn’t make the list is because he does not currently hold office. Still, given O’Malley’s recent high-profile status as a politician in the media, he deserves an inclusion on the list.
Martin O’Malley is not only concerned with the overall health in his state, but a main point on his agenda is also about the health and physical activity level of people with disabilities. He passed the Fitness and Athletic Equity Act in Maryland, which promotes expanded athletic opportunities for people with disabilities. While being concerned with others’ health, O’Malley stays in shape by doing P90X and participates in the annual Special Olympics Polar Bear Dip.
Honorable Mention: Mitt Romney
After a successful career in politics that included a presidential campaign, Mitt Romney has taken a break from public office. Romney remains in excellent shape and has been a long proponent of healthy lifestyle, which is why he deserves an honorable mention.
An avid jogger, Romney has said he runs at least 3 miles a day and reportedly hits the elliptical machine for 30 to 40 minutes at hotel gyms while on the road. While campaigning for the 2012 presidential election, he said he used fellow lister Paul Ryan as both his running mate and personal trainer.
Honorable Mention: Rick Perry
It’s no secret that Perry maintains a very active lifestyle. Primarily a runner, Perry enjoys daily runs at his home in Austin. In 2011, Perry complained of being unable to exercise regularly because of back surgery, but continued to be very open about his physical rehabilitation, eager to return to the run. In fact, running is such a key part of his lifestyle, that he frequently participated in fun runs across the state and has even completed a marathon in 2005. Perry also founded the Texas Round-Up (which has since been discontinued) in an effort to promote daily exercise.