The case is going to be made here that the best thing George W. Bush did during his eight years in the White House is exercise religiously. Now, before you pronounce me a blithering idiot -- well then, before you do it again, I ask that you do me the courtesy of hearing me out.
You may be one of those who think that this president can't do anything right. Even if this perception were correct and he had done everything poorly during his tenure, there would still be something that he did less poorly than all the rest -- which would make that what he did best. However, that's obviously not the case here and with that little nugget of wisdom out of the way, let's continue.
Recently on the Tonight Show Jay Leno made a joke about the president's spending, during his two terms, 2,194 hours on various exercise machines in the White House (and that probably doesn't even include the mountain biking he enjoys during weekends). Leno was insinuating that there were more important issues that the president should be tending to. That got me thinking: What's more important than taking care of one's self?
In the case of the President of the United States, here's what he has accomplished by taking time for regular workouts:
1. He's stayed healthy and on the job for the last eight years. Did you really want Dick Cheney, with his history of heart events, not to mention his political views if you are listing to the left, in charge?
2.The president reduced his stress levels. Remember, chronic stress can interfere with clear thinking and decision making (be careful, now, Homeland Security may be listening).
3. At age 62, George W. Bush serves as a good role model for other seniors.
Let's take a closer look at number 3. What's one of the biggest problems facing this nation? That's right! How are we going to pay for the escalating costs of Medicare and Social Security as more and more boomers retire and need to be supported by the taxes of a dwindling number of workers?
If these aging boomers learn from George Bush's example to take better care of themselves, they'll need fewer Medicare benefits and services and be less of a financial burden on the country. Some, however, will argue that if older folks take better care of themselves, they'll live longer and offset the savings in their Medicare costs, but that's just not the case. Here are the numbers.
Let's say an individual retires at 65, doesn't bother to stay in good shape and lives to 85. As a result of his poor health habits, such as not getting enough exercise, this senior costs the U.S. taxpayers $20,000 per year in medical/Medicare bills. Twenty years of retirement times an average of $20,000 per year in prescription medicines, hospital stays, longterm care, ... comes to a grand total of $400,000 on the taxpayers' tab.
Compare that sickly senior with one who follows the President's lead and only runs up a $2,000-medical bill each year. That's 20 years multiplied by $2,000 or $40,000 over the two decades of retirement. But you say, "he'll live longer and need more social security payments." So let's factor that in. His good health habits give him an extra year of life and let's say that's $20,000 in added social security payments. Result: Add $20,000 to $42,000 (21 years of Medicare) for a total bill of $62,000 or $338,000 less than the healthcare costs of the more typical senior. And, that doesn't even touch on his having a much more enjoyable couple of decades in retirement
The takeaway: If, like the president, we include a health-sustaining exercise session in our daily activities and otherwise take good care of ourselves, we are role models for others to do the same -- creating a snowballing effect of natural, low-cost well-being.
Ed Mayhew is a speaker and the author of Fitter After 50 and Fitter For Life Visit him at: www.FitterAfter50.com www.FitterForLife.com www.YouCanGrowYounger.com Ask for your F*R*E*E Fitter After 50 newsletter