11 Politicians Who Are Fit to Lead

We can’t comment on the country’s best bets for excellent governance—but we can tell you that these politicos would be first across the finish line if everyone on Capitol Hill had to lace up

By: Alyssa Wells 

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12 Politicians Who Are Fit to Lead Intro

If the race to get elected were a battle of physicality, there is little question that the face of politics would be a bit trimmer, the collective belt a notch or two tighter. Public office certainly isn’t a beauty pageant, but it just so happens that many of our nation’s top leaders are impressively fit. Read on to find out who of these political figures are avid runners, devout P90X followers, cyclists, hoop stars, and more. (Search: Should You try P90X?)

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President Barack Obama

It’s not news that the commander in chief prefers a full-court press or playing the back nine when it comes to staying fit, but dropping three pointers and smashing golf balls isn’t the only way he holds his own next to the First Lady’s awe-inspiring arms. For more than a decade President Obama has also relied on the efforts of Cornell McClellan, owner of Naturally Fit, a personal training and wellness center in Chicago, who now spends part of his week in Washington, DC. With McClellan, President Obama performs a mixture of cardio and strength-training and has even offered to foot the bill for some of his staffers to get personal training, according to a New York Times story. It’s also worth mentioning that Obama is the first president to grace the cover of Men’s Health magazine—and he’s done it twice!

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Ron Paul

This Texas congressman and 2012 presidential hopeful knows a thing or two about leading a long, healthy life. Not only is he a medical doctor who has delivered more than 4,000 babies, this 76-years-young Republican is “very fit” and hops in the saddle every day for 10- to 12-mile rides on a road bike, says a spokesperson for Dr. Paul.

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Kirsten Gillibrand

Following the birth of her second child, this United States senator (D-NY) decided she wanted to make health and fitness a focal point of her life. She took up running, started playing tennis and squash again, and made over her diet, choosing a healthy combination of fruits, vegetables, lean meats, fish, low-fat dairy, and complex carbs, she told Marie Claire. Over the course of 2010 Gillibrand lost 40 pounds—dropping from a size 16 to a svelte size 4—and her tennis game has never been better, she told the magazine.

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Aaron Schock

It’s no surprise that the fittest man in Congress is also its youngest member. (At just 30 years old, he’s already in his second term, representing Illinois’s 18th district.) But Schock wasn’t always such a hard-bodied jock: He was slender and sports-averse in high school and didn’t start working out until college. “In college I could feel my body changing, and I knew that if I didn’t make some changes, I was going to go in the wrong direction,” he told Men’s Health magazine. It’s safe to say that, these days, he’s defining the right direction. Every weekday morning Schock logs a 5-mile run, only after getting in his 6:30 a.m. weight training or P90X session in the House gym. And those efforts don’t go unrecognized: He was invited to flash his chiseled six-pack on the cover of the June 2011 issue of Men’s Health.

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Sarah Palin

Who wouldn’t love running if he or she had Alaska’s amazing landscapes to trek though? Former Alaska governor and 2008 vice presidential candidate, Sarah Palin, has been taking advantage of those picturesque trails for more than 35 years. Her passion for running was passed down from her parents who both picked up the sport in the 1970s and went on to complete marathons. Palin loves to run during summers in Alaska when the sun is still shining at 10 p.m. but isn’t afraid to bundle up for workouts in -20°F weather. Though she does own a treadmill, she prefers the peace of running alone outdoors, Palin told Runner’s World magazine in an interview. And races aren’t out of the question for the celebrity: The former high school basketball player ran an undercover half marathon last year in Iowa under her maiden name. Perhaps she would have been less secretive if she had known she’d finish in an impressive 1:46:10?

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George W. Bush

The former president was always athletic, but the decision to head out for a jog the morning of his 40th birthday to deal with a “mean hangover” lead to another healthy decision: giving up alcohol. Bush finds time for exercise every day and always makes sure there’s a treadmill in his room when he travels. He even put a treadmill on Air Force One so he wouldn’t miss a workout while en route.





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Paul Ryan, Kevin McCarthy, and Jeff Flake

These young Republicans have one thing in common: They all want to look like Tony. We’re referring, of course, to Tony Horton, the tanned, ripped creator of the P90X workout program that they loyally follow every morning in the House gym. Republican congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin jumped into P90X at the urging of two friends—a Green Beret and a Navy SEAL, he told the Wall Street Journal. Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) soon started joining Ryan for his morning workout, and before long Jeff Flake (R-AZ) and others were also crowding around two to complete the daily routine. Horton has even attended a few of their workouts to lead them through the rigorous sequences.

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Heath Shuler

Shuler (D-NC) could be classified as fit by his resume alone. He was quarterback at the University of Tennessee and runner-up for the Heisman Trophy, and he played in the NFL for the Washington Redskins, the New Orleans Saints, and the Oakland Raiders until an injury ended his career. He joined the House gym P90X sessions for a time but opted out in 2011 in favor of Insanity, an intense cardio and strength-training workout from Beachbody, the same company that distributes P90X.

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Jean Schmidt

How do you find time to get in an hour-long run if you’re a busy congresswoman? Simple—hit the streets at 4:30 a.m. An avid runner, Jean Schmidt (R-OH) has completed more than 88 marathons with a personal best of 3:19:09. Her favorite morning route takes her through the National Mall. She loops around the Lincoln Memorial and then heads back toward the Capitol building, a sight that still gives her goose bumps, she told Runner’s World magazine. Though she does run shorter races, Schmidt prefers the mental challenge of marathons and it’s clear nothing can keep her away from her passion: In 2008 Schmidt was struck by a car during a run in Ohio, breaking two ribs and two vertebrae. Within a week of being cleared by her doctors to start training, Schmidt ran the Walt Disney World Marathon and hasn’t missed a day of running since, she told The Hill, the daily congressional newspaper.

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