President Donald Trump likes to eat fast food. And he doesn’t like to exercise. Like, at all.
“He’s more enthusiastic about the diet part than the exercise part, but we’re going to do both,” White House physician Ronny Jackson acknowledged to reporters in a press briefing on the President’s overall health earlier this week. (Jackson said Trump weighs 239 pounds and could stand to lose 10 to 15 pounds over the next year.)
In an interview with Reuters on Wednesday, Trump tried to make the case that he actually exercises more than people (including Dr. Jackson) know.
“I get exercise. I mean I walk, I this, I that,” Trump told Reuters. “I run over to a building next door. I get more exercise than people think.”
So. To summarize Trump’s exercise regimen:
- Run to building next door
- Unspecified number of repetitions
The truth of Trump’s view on exercise is more complicated than just his pretending that he “get[s] more exercise than people think.” And, he gives us a glimpse into his exercise beliefs in that same Reuters interview.
“A lot of people go to the gym and they’ll work out for two hours and all,” Trump said. “I’ve seen people … then they get their new knees when they’re 55 years old and they get their new hips and they do all those things. I don’t have those problems.”
That’s very similar to how Trump described his reservations about exercise in a 2015 New York Times magazine profile:
Trump said he was not following any special diet or exercise regimen for the campaign. ”’All my friends who work out all the time, they’re going for knee replacements, hip replacements — they’re a disaster,” he said. He exerts himself fully by standing in front of an audience for an hour, as he just did. ‘That’s exercise.’”
And that’s in keeping with Trump’s broader view of working out – which I affectionately like to call the “battery theory.”
This, from the brilliant book “Trump Revealed,” explains that nicely:
After college, after Trump mostly gave up his personal athletic interests, he came to view time spent playing sports as time wasted. Trump believed the human body was like a battery, with a finite amount of energy, which exercise only depleted. So he didn’t work out. When he learned that John O’Donnell, one of his top casino executives, was training for an Ironman triathlon, he admonished him, “You are going to die young because of this.”
You only have so much life force. Exercising depletes that life force. Therefore, exercising is bad.
While the belief within the medical community is, contra Trump, that exercise is good for you, I did find one study from 2015 published in Circulation magazine that suggested people who exercised strenuously 4-7 times a week were at increased risk for vascular disease when compared to those who exercise strenuously 2-3 times a week.
Of course, that study’s findings don’t apply to Trump, who exercises strenuously roughly zero times a week – unless you count the time he spends golfing. But, Trump doesn’t even like to get too much exercise on the golf course – choosing to ride in a cart rather than walk the course. “I don’t want to spend the time,” to walk, he explained to Reuters.
Trump’s annual physical – conducted by Jackson last Friday at Walter Reed – only seemed to affirm the President’s exercise beliefs.
“I was on a treadmill for the first time actually in quite a while, and it was at a very steep angle, and I was there for a very long time,” he recounted. “They were surprised. And they said, ‘Well you can stop now, that’s amazing.’ And I said, ‘I can go much longer than this if you want me to.’”
Because, of course he can.