WASHINGTON, D.C. — Following up on the sentiments of the Surgeon General over the last few years, President Bush launched what the White House termed a “comprehensive fitness agenda to help our nation become stronger and healthier.”

White House spokesman Ari Fleischer cited a litany of statistics suggesting many Americans are fat and don't work out enough, saying that nearly half of American adults report that they do not exercise at all. Meanwhile, seven out of 10 exercise infrequently at best — no surprise to those in the health club industry. In addition, Fleischer said 300,000 deaths occur related to obesity, a sobering statistic which will hopefully motivate more Americans to exercise more, both in the gym and out.

Outlined in a 16-page, red-white-and-blue booklet, the President's HealthierUS initiative calls for at least a half-hour of exercise every day for adults and 60 minutes for children; eating smaller portions of more nutritious foods; regular preventive health screenings; and avoidance of any risky behaviors.

As part the Initiative, the President, on June 30th, hosted a fitness expo on the South Lawn of the White House. At the fitness expo, the President introduced new members of the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, including Chairman and former Pittsburgh Steeler Lynn Swann, and discussed more details of his fitness initiative.

The President also spent time in late June visiting with seniors at a local senior center to discuss his fitness initiative and the value of age-appropriate physical activity to promote healthy aging. He also hosted the President's Fitness Challenge at Fort McNair, for White House staff and Cabinet, which included a three-mile run led by the President, while the First Lady led walkers in a 1.5-mile walk.