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10.31.11

Obama in ‘Excellent Health’

Eighteen months after his last physical, the president shows normal cholesterol and low risk of disease—and that basketball injury has healed well, according to his team of doctors. Daniel Stone reports.

Despite the demands of an embattled presidency and a sluggish economy, President Obama emerged from his latest physical exam on Monday in strikingly good health.

In a statement released by the White House, Obama’s personal physician, Dr. Jeffrey Kuhlman, pronounced the president in “excellent health,” posting bio-indicators that are all common for Obama’s age and weight classes, as well as his family history.

Having just turned 50 in August, Obama showed common height (6-foot-1) and weight (181.3 pounds) for his age range. His blood pressure was recorded at 107 over 71, well below levels of hypertension or prehypertension determined by the National Institutes of Health. And his heart rate was tested at 67 beats per minute, below the 72 bpm average for most adult males. He was tested and cleared for diabetes, colon cancer, and prostate cancer, all of which come at elevated risk for middle-aged men.

Obama has said his key to good health and handling the stress of the office is consistent exercise, and that he joins first lady Michelle Obama in the White House gym to work out each morning.

“She’s in better shape than me,” he joked to comedian Jay Leno last week. “And so it’s embarrassing sometimes… she’ll get up there a half an hour earlier than me. She will have already run 10 miles or something.”

“Michelle’s in better shape than me,” he joked to Leno. “And so it’s embarrassing…she’ll get up there a half an hour earlier than me. She will have already run 10 miles or something.”

Some abnormalities appeared in Obama’s exam, however slight. Occasionally the president uses anti-inflammatory medication after strenuous physical activity. Obama played golf many weekends over the summer and fall and basketball with aides at the White House or the nearby Interior Department. During one basketball outing last November, Obama was elbowed in the lip and given 12 stitches. Doctors noted the injury healed well.

Most presidents post good bills of health, primarily because of the preventive health care that comes with the office. A staff of physicians constantly accompanies the president, and a culinary staff helps ensure healthful eating and portion size. In 2006, the year he turned 60, George W. Bush also posted good indicators and low risk of disease. The cholesterol level of Bill Clinton, who had a penchant for hamburgers, was measured high on occasion, but not at a level that concerned doctors.

Yet Obama doesn’t always follow his wife’s healthy eating advice. During one trip with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, the two men ate hamburgers together at a Virginia burger joint. And last week while visiting Los Angeles, Obama stopped at an iconic L.A. restaurant known for its fried chicken and waffles.

Still, Kuhlman said the president was “fit at 50 and staying healthy at 50 plus.” Another exam was recommended in December 2012, after an undoubtedly rigorous campaign season.