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NIH MedlinePlus the Magazine, Trusted Health Information from the National Institutes of Health

From the Directors

Richard J. Hodes, M.D.
Photo courtesy of NIH

Richard J. Hodes, M.D.
Director, National Institute on Aging

Raynard Kington
Photo courtesy of NIH

Raynard Kington, M.D.
NIH Deputy Director

Patricia A. Grady and Anthony Fauci, M.D.
Photo courtesy of NIH

Patricia A. Grady, Ph.D. ,R.N., Director, National Institute of Nursing Research & Anthony Fauci, M.D., Director, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

"Think of Exercise as a Lifestyle"

NIH institute directors understand the important health benefits of an active, exercise-based lifestyle. The following commentary is taken from NIH Director Zerhouni's exercise video on

NIH Director Elias A. Zerhouni, M.D.

NIH Director Elias A. Zerhouni, M.D., leads the nation's medical research agency and oversees the NIH's 27 Institutes and Centers and more than 17,000 employees.
Photo courtesy of NIH

Exercise is extremely important as a regular part of your life, and we at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) take that very seriously in our own lives. Exercise is not something that you only do when you're young. You have to think of it as a lifestyle that allows you to maintain both physical fitness and mental fitness at all ages of life.

Throughout my life, I've been a swimmer. I began swimming when I was 3 or 4 years old, and, later, I was a competitive swimmer in high school and college. Growing up, I had some problems with my knees, and I couldn't run. So, my mother said, "Well, if you can't run, you have to go and swim." And the doctor agreed: "You know, swimming would be good for you." I excelled at swimming, and I still love swimming today.

One of the reasons I like swimming is because it's a time of quiet thinking. It's one of those times when you can think about something. As with running or biking—you can really be with yourself, and you don't have the pressures of the outside world. That's a moment when you're also able to think through things, to be in touch with your own soul, which is very important. Exercise does that. It's the only time when you can actually do that. You feel your body, and it's refreshing. You feel like you're in touch with yourself.

Make exercise a part of your lifestyle. It will reward you every day.

The photos at right are from videos on the Web site, showing several NIH directors as they exercise to stay physically and mentally healthy. To see more videos, go to and click on NIHSeniorHealth at lower right; on the next screen, press the Click to Begin button and then click on Exercise for Older Adults.

Fall 2006 Issue: Volume 1 Number 1 Page 3