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Bush Believes Americans Need More Exercise

With nearly two-thirds of adult Americans categorized as being overweight or obese, and childhood obesity threatening the health of one-third of the nation's young people, fitness is a concern to President Bush: The theme of the 2007 White House Easter Egg Roll, for example, was health and fitness, encouraging children to get out and exercise every day.

"I believe strongly in exercise," Mr. Bush told CBS News Early Show co-anchor Hannah Storm in an exclusive interview. "I exercise a lot because it's good for my mind and good for my soul. But I hope I set a good example to others that exercise is good for you.

"I also think that since we spend a lot of money on food in the education system, then we should insist upon better food," the president said. "A lot of the dietary problems are just obviously what people eat. And so it's not just a lack of exercise, or obesity problem, it's not just a lack of exercise, but a bad diet."

The makers of snack foods marketed to children recently agreed to change the way they manufacture and sell their products, using healthier fats and reducing sugar, and packaging snacks in smaller portions.

Mr. Bush himself goes on ambitious bicycle rides for exercise.

"For an old guy, I guess they're 'monstrous.' But I have wisely convinced a bunch of youngsters in the White House and around Washington to ride with me. I've always found that if you play up that you get better," he told Storm in the interview that aired Thursday. "But I do love exercise."

Many adults complain they're too busy to exercise.

"I don't buy that. I don't buy it. I think that you set priorities in life. And if exercise is one of your priorities, you'll figure out time to do it," Mr. Bush said. "You know, sitting down at a big lunch may be someone's priority, but it's not all that hard to shift that priority to exercising at lunch."

The president turns 61 on July 6.

"I'm amazed at how young I feel," he said. "When I look back, I think, 'Wow, 60 is old!' I remember thinking, 'Golly, if I ever get to be 60, I'm ancient.' And I feel great, and I think most 60-year-olds feel really good, particularly those who have taken care of their body and are careful about what they put in their body."

Mr. Bush, a former co-owner of the Texas Rangers baseball team, hosted a tee-ball softball game for girls Wednesday on the White House South Lawn, for which Storm provided the play-by-play.

"I'm a big backer of women's athletics," the president said in the interview.

Last Saturday was the 35th anniversary of Title IX, which requires gender equality in athletics and other educational programs.

"I've been a big backer of Title IX. I would defend it as something that has worked well," Mr. Bush said.

There's more work to be done for women's athletics, he said.

"I think the progress, though, has been startling from the days when there were hardly any women's teams. And I think the more we can expand Title IX and really include more people in athletics, male and female, the better off the country is," the president said.