WASHINGTON -- It is typical of George Bush that he would g jogging after two long days of travel.
At 66, he has been been an extremely active president, apparently in robust health, who takes good care of his body but also pushes himself very hard at work and play.
The shortness of breath Mr. Bush experienced while jogging at Camp David yesterday afternoon followed day trips Friday to St. Louis, Mo., and yesterday morning to Ann Arbor, Mich., during which he crossed large chunks of the country.
He also entertained Argentina's President Carlos S. Menem Friday morning. In addition, Mr. Bush took a few minutes out to angrily deny a new round of charges that he had been involved in secret dealings with Iranian leaders a decade ago.
But even before that, the president had already put in a rough week.
Wednesday morning, for example, Mr. Bush was on the White House South Lawn shortly after 7 a.m. He joined body builder and actor Arnold Schwarzenegger in a Bush administration effort to call attention to a physical fitness program known as the Great American Workout.
Mr. Schwarzenegger, chairman of the President's Council on Physical Fitness, identified Mr. Bush as an example of one of the world's busiest men, but who nevertheless always finds time to exercise an hour a day.
That isn't quite true, the president admits. He misses a day once in a while and sometimes gets in only a 20-minute run.
But he threw himself into the routine that morning, earning compliments from other celebrity athletes for his sweat-soaked T-shirt after working out at each of the dozen or so exercise stations.
Mr. Bush went on to put in a full schedule for the remainder of Wednesday. His activities included a trip to the National Security Agency in Jessup and a speech to business editors at a Washington hotel. Then, he capped the day with a trip that evening to the Kennedy Center for a performance of "Greater Tuna."
Thursday morning, the president was out early again to attend a prayer breakfast before another day full of meetings in Washington that preceded his trips to St. Louis and Ann Arbor.
Aides and reporters 20 or 30 years younger often struggle to match the president's pace, silently cursing his energy as they ,, go.
On occasions like yesterday afternoon when the president decides to take a jog when others are thinking wistfully of a nap, Mr. Bush is sometimes asked why he just doesn't relax and take it easy for a while.
He explains that exercise -- including tennis, horseshoes, racquetball, wallyball (volleyball played on a raquetball court), and his peculiar form of high-speed golf supplemented by workoutson a stationary bike, stairs and treadmill -- provides a release for him from his job.
"No matter how old you are or what kind of shape you're in, exercise helps every one of us live longer, healthier, more enjoyable lives," Mr. Bush said last week while promoting physical fitness with Mr. Schwarzenegger.
The president has looked much healthier in recent days, at ease rather than taut and drawn. He also got a chance to slip off last month for fishing trips to Florida and Alabama.
During his last physical checkup March 27, the president was proclaimed "in excellent health" by his personal White House physician, Dr. Burton Lee.
"He remains an extraordinarily vigorous man who continues to thrive on a great deal of physical activity and a rigorous, demanding work schedule," Dr. Lee said.