Bush 'Fit For Duty,' Though Flabby

President Bush waves as he arrives at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., Saturday, Dec. 11, 2004, for his annual physical.
AP
President Bush was found in good health and pronounced "fit for duty" after an annual physical Saturday that also showed that the 58-year-old chief executive is now, as he conceded, "a little overweight."

"I obviously have gone through a campaign where I probably ate too many doughnuts, if you get my drift," said Mr. Bush, who pledged to drop some weight in the new year. "But other than that, I feel great," he said upon leaving the National Naval Medical Center outside Washington.

The checkup, usually scheduled for summertime, was delayed for four months because Mr. Bush had a hectic travel schedule during the campaign.

White House spokeswoman Claire Buchan would not comment on whether the exam, which took about three hours, found any medical problems. The White House planned to release the details of the doctors' assessment later Saturday, she said.

"They determined he is in superior health overall for a man his age," she said.

"It lets the White House say, 'We told you so,' in response to those who raised concerns because Mr. Bush had delayed his annual physical from last August, to now," notes CBS News Correspondent Mark Knoller.

Mr. Bush did have a small lesion removed from his left shoulder. It will be a few days before pathology results are released.

The White House released a short letter signed by the 10 doctors who participated in exam.

"I have interviewed and examined President George W. Mr. Bush and have reviewed his medical record," the doctors' statement said. "Within the scope of my specialty, I find him to be fit for duty and have every reasonable expectation that he will remain fit for duty for the duration of his presidency."

Presiding over the medical exam at the National Naval Medical Center outside Washington were White House physician Richard Tubb and Dr. Kenneth Cooper, the president of the Cooper Aerobics Center. Also involved were a radiologist, optometrist, sports physician, hearing specialist, skin specialist and cardiologist.

Mr. Bush, a devoted exerciser who prides himself on his discipline, seemed to take the unspecified weight gain hard.

"My New Year's resolution has become apparent after getting on the scales," Mr. Bush said, a bit sheepishly. "I am — I'm a little overweight. Therefore, I fully intend to lose some inches off my waistline and some pounds off my frame."

In his past three annual exams, the president was pronounced extremely fit.

At nearly 6 feet tall, Mr. Bush was found in his 2003 physical to weigh 194 pounds, with a low 14.5 percent body fat, a healthy resting blood pressure of 110/62 and a resting pulse rate (45 beats per minute) that puts him in the range of a well-trained athlete.

This time around, reports Correspondent Knoller, the numbers show the president gained nearly six pounds since his last physical 16 months ago. His body fat was up as well, to 18.24 percent. His resting pulse rate, also up, to 52 beats per minute. His blood pressure was about the same.

Mr. Bush won a second four-year term on Nov. 2. His inauguration is Jan. 20.

After the checkup, Mr. Bush stayed at the medical facility to visit privately for about two hours with Marines, sailors and one soldier recovering from injuries suffered in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The hospital is treating about 50 military members, most of whom were hurt in Iraq, Lt. Cmdr. Chito Peppler said. Mr. Bush saw about 45 of them, including two in the intensive care unit, and was awarding 14 Purple Hearts, Buchan said.

Mr. Bush asked if they had everything they needed and expressed appreciation for their sacrifice, Buchan said. For most of the visits, the president was accompanied by Michael W. Smith, the Christian pop singer who is a Mr. Bush family friend.

"It is such an honor to see those who have been injured and now are fighting back and recovering their spirit, their strength," Mr. Bush said.

Previously, the president's only reported health problems have been minor: a mild high frequency hearing loss that does not affect everyday conversation, an optic condition that has the effect of farsightedness, and a now-healed minor muscle tear in his right calf last summer.

Last winter, with his knees causing him increasing pain after nearly three decades of running, Mr. Bush switched to riding a mountain bike for exercise. Those who have biked with him say the president is as aggressive on the trails as he was on the track as a jogger.

Mr. Bush has had several small skin growths treated as a preventive measure, including lesions around his nose that are common in people with sun damage. He has had four small lesions removed from his cheeks and arm with liquid nitrogen.

The president smokes an occasional cigar. He quit drinking alcohol when he was 40.