Weekly Radio Address
The Cabinet Room
The White House
June 22, 2002
Good morning. Earlier today, the First Lady and I joined the White House staff
for the inaugural President's Fitness Challenge Run and Walk. Every participant
took important steps on the road to better health, and runners and walkers volunteered
to perform community service or to contribute to charities.
The Fitness Challenge is part of a larger initiative I launched this week to
help Americans live longer, better, and healthier lives. And the good news is
this: when it comes to your health, even little steps can make a big difference.
If just 10 percent of adults began walking regularly, Americans could save $5.6
billion in costs related to heart disease. And research suggests that we can
reduce cancer deaths by one-third simply by changing our diets and getting more
The title of our new health and fitness initiative says it all: Healthier US.
It is based on four guideposts to good health. First, be physically active every
day. Second, develop good eating habits.
Third, take advantage of preventative screenings. Fourth, don't smoke, don't
do drugs, and don't drink excessively. These four simple measures will help
all Americans get healthier and stronger.
First, be physically active every day. A report released this week by the Department
of Health and Human Services confirms that almost 40 percent of adults get no
leisure time physical activity. This lack of activity can lead to poor health
and higher health care costs. Americans who are obese spend approximately 36
percent more on health care services than the general population. They spend
77 percent more on medications.
Here are some simple suggestions to help Americans get active. Walking 30 minutes
a day can improve your health. Playing a game in the backyard will help parents
and children get fit and spend some quality time with each other. And regularly
hiking through a park can add years to your life. This weekend, the federal
government is waiving all entrance fees to national parks and other federal
lands, so you can exercise while exploring America's natural beauty. Exercise
is a daily part of my life, and I urge all Americans to make it an important
part of your lives.
Second, eat a nutritious diet. That means eating fruits and vegetables and cutting
back on fatty foods. If you try your best to achieve these goals, you will be
on the road to healthier living, and you'll have a lot more energy for your
Third, get preventative screenings, simple tests that can tell you if you're
prone to developing certain diseases such as diabetes and cancer and heart disease.
By acting on that information, you can help prevent a potentially life-threatening
Fourth, cut out tobacco, drugs, and excessive drinking. Tobacco use is the single
most preventable cause of death and disease in America. Drug and alcohol abuse
destroys lives and families and communities. Avoiding tobacco, drugs, and excessive
alcohol can save your life.
This initiative is part of my administration's ongoing commitment to raising
awareness about the benefits of exercise and healthy choices. Our message is
simple, but important. The doctors in America should talk to your patients about
the value of exercise and healthy eating. Parents should make sure your children
get plenty of exercise and good nutrition, and make smart decisions. By making
minor changes to our lives, we will build a healthier and stronger America.