Presidential Octogenarians and their Health Habits

Langston Jones: Kid Historian
4 min readAug 30, 2020

In this blog post, we’re going to write about how the 11 octogenarian (and nonagenarian) presidents lived so long. You may think this blog post is not a very good idea, because we already did something similar, but this is for our subscriber Diana (again!) on her 80th birthday!

A quarter of the presidents have already celebrated their 80th birthdays. Let’s look at each one, in the order they did it, and examine the health habits and health scores that may have helped them do it.

1. John Adams (health score: C)

He died at the age of 90 of heart failure. He had a medium health score, because he had a few health problems, but he liked to go on long walks. A quote that he wrote about exercise is, “Move or die.”

2. Thomas Jefferson (health score: B)

He was a very healthy eater; he ate vegetables and seafood a lot. He slept a lot every day. He also exercised two hours a day. He thought that exercising wasn’t just good for our body health but also brain health. He said, “If the body be feeble, the mind will not be strong. Of all the exercises walking is best. A horse gives but a kind of half exercise, and a carriage is no better than a cradle.”

3. James Madison (health score: D)

Even though he lived to be 85, he was sick a lot. He got more sleep than most presidents, but he wasn’t very active. He probably lived long because of good genetics. He was also the last Founding Father to still be alive.

4. John Quincy Adams (health score: B)

He was one of the most active presidents. He walked six miles every day and would swim naked in the Potomac River. He didn’t eat much, but what he did eat was healthy, like fruit. He thought that some crackers were enough for a meal.

Now let’s jump forward in time over 100 years…

5. Herbert Hoover (health score: D)

He was probably the president who liked to be outdoors the most, after Theodore Roosevelt. He had a medicine ball that he exercised with six days a week, and he used it in a game he called Hooverball. He had a low health score, due to some illnesses he had that were common at the time.

6. Harry Truman (health score: A)

He ate stuff that didn’t have a lot of sugar in it, and ate a lot of fruit. He exercised regularly. He had a lot of accidents, like his toe got cut off in a door slam and had to be reattached. But he was very healthy.

7. Ronald Reagan (health score: D)

He stopped using cigarettes and replaced them with jelly beans. He went in the White House gym, chopped wood, and took naps.

8. Richard Nixon (health score: B)

He was fitter than he looked.

9. Gerald Ford (health score: B)

He was very active, like he swam and played golf every day. His appendix got removed when he was a kid, but turns out there was nothing wrong with it.

10. George H. W. Bush (health score: C)

He liked to jog. A funny fact was that he once vomited on the prime minister of Japan!

11. Jimmy Carter (health score A)

He also liked to jog. He is a nonagenarian. Maybe one day he will be a… centenarian!

Originally published at on August 30, 2020.



Langston Jones: Kid Historian

I am an eight year old who’s interested in presidents and history. I’m posting some of my favorite lists for you!