Public Papers

Remarks on Signing the National Physical Fitness and Sports Month Proclamation


Well, welcome to the White House. I think Secretary Sullivan looks better already. [Laughter] And to Arnold Schwarzenegger and members of the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, honored guests, ladies and gentlemen, welcome. Welcome to the White House, and a pleasure to be with all of you, especially the man who symbolizes physical fitness, Arnold Schwarzenegger.

You know, he's stronger than I thought he was. He bench-pressed the Federal budget. [Laughter] This weekend we had our grandson Sam LeBlond. I said, ``If Arnold Schwarzenegger can do that, why can't you pick up your socks?'' [Laughter]

But look, this morning we're here for a very special event. I want to thank all the participants. It kicks off National Physical Fitness and Sports Month. And today -- I hope this doesn't get me in trouble with another vegetable -- [laughter] -- but today we're declaring war on couch potatoes. [Laughter] And all of us have a stake in making exercise a part of America's fitness and fitness a part of America every day. No matter what your age, sex, or physical condition, the Great American Workout can enhance the quality and longevity of each American's life.

And just look at these workout stations. Barbara and I came around and toured them all last night. In a couple of moments, we'll be visiting them again. And one involves aerobic dancing; others are for American pastimes like baseball and basketball and football and, yes, horseshoes -- and a martial arts station.

And I'd like to give a special salute to the heroes here representing the Disabled and Special Olympics. Their strength and determination inspires us all.

The Great American Workout shows how fitness can reduce heart disease and stroke -- lowering stress, blood pressure, cholesterol. And yet surveys show that only 40 percent of American adults exercise regularly. And among our kids fitness hasn't improved over the last decade; in fact, in some cases, it's declined. And one way to change that is by placing a new emphasis on quality physical education in our schools.

Arnold briefed me on this the other day. Only one State now requires daily physical education in its schools from kindergarten through 12th grade. So, let's encourage all 50 States.

And also, let's pledge to eat a balanced and nutritional diet, avoid excessive alcohol use and, of course, say no to drugs. And all you broccoli lovers, eat your heart out, out there. [Laughter] Together these steps can make America more competitive in the classroom and the factory, as well as on the playing field.

Through fitness, we can build a healthier America that's number one academically, economically, and athletically. By participating in so many sports, I'm not trying to get my picture on a Wheaties box. I love sports, as do the kids at these workout stations -- kids from 6 to 65. And, yes, fitness can be an individual activity or a family affair. Either way it can help create an America that out-performs any nation in the world.

Thank you to every participant. It's my pleasure to officially proclaim National Fitness and Sports Month. And now, to quote a great golfer who often dieted but seldom exercised -- Jackie Gleason -- a little traveling music. Arnold, let's take a look at these workout stations. And thank you all once again.

Note: The President spoke at 7:10 a.m. on the South Grounds at the White House. In his opening remarks, he referred to Secretary of Health and Human Services Louis W. Sullivan and Arnold Schwarzenegger, Chairman of the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports. The proclamation is listed in Appendix E at the end of this volume.