Weekly Radio Address
The Cabinet Room
The White House
Washington, D.C.
June 22, 2002

Good morning. Earlier today, the First Lady and I joined the White House staff for the inaugural President's Fitness Challenge Run and Walk. Every participant took important steps on the road to better health, and runners and walkers volunteered to perform community service or to contribute to charities.

The Fitness Challenge is part of a larger initiative I launched this week to help Americans live longer, better, and healthier lives. And the good news is this: when it comes to your health, even little steps can make a big difference. If just 10 percent of adults began walking regularly, Americans could save $5.6 billion in costs related to heart disease. And research suggests that we can reduce cancer deaths by one-third simply by changing our diets and getting more exercise.

The title of our new health and fitness initiative says it all: Healthier US. It is based on four guideposts to good health. First, be physically active every day. Second, develop good eating habits.

Third, take advantage of preventative screenings. Fourth, don't smoke, don't do drugs, and don't drink excessively. These four simple measures will help all Americans get healthier and stronger.

First, be physically active every day. A report released this week by the Department of Health and Human Services confirms that almost 40 percent of adults get no leisure time physical activity. This lack of activity can lead to poor health and higher health care costs. Americans who are obese spend approximately 36 percent more on health care services than the general population. They spend 77 percent more on medications.

Here are some simple suggestions to help Americans get active. Walking 30 minutes a day can improve your health. Playing a game in the backyard will help parents and children get fit and spend some quality time with each other. And regularly hiking through a park can add years to your life. This weekend, the federal government is waiving all entrance fees to national parks and other federal lands, so you can exercise while exploring America's natural beauty. Exercise is a daily part of my life, and I urge all Americans to make it an important part of your lives.

Second, eat a nutritious diet. That means eating fruits and vegetables and cutting back on fatty foods. If you try your best to achieve these goals, you will be on the road to healthier living, and you'll have a lot more energy for your 30-minute walk.

Third, get preventative screenings, simple tests that can tell you if you're prone to developing certain diseases such as diabetes and cancer and heart disease. By acting on that information, you can help prevent a potentially life-threatening illness.

Fourth, cut out tobacco, drugs, and excessive drinking. Tobacco use is the single most preventable cause of death and disease in America. Drug and alcohol abuse destroys lives and families and communities. Avoiding tobacco, drugs, and excessive alcohol can save your life.

This initiative is part of my administration's ongoing commitment to raising awareness about the benefits of exercise and healthy choices. Our message is simple, but important. The doctors in America should talk to your patients about the value of exercise and healthy eating. Parents should make sure your children get plenty of exercise and good nutrition, and make smart decisions. By making minor changes to our lives, we will build a healthier and stronger America.

Thank you for listening.