Health and Wellness

White House advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci power walks 3.5 miles a day to relax from his high-stress job

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
(Photo by Kevin Dietsch-Pool/Getty Images)

For Dr. Anthony Fauci, "exercise [is] a significant part of my regimen," he recently told InStyle

The 79-year-old White House advisor has been putting in jam-packed, 20-hour days fighting Covid-19, so he makes time to power walk to relieve stress, Fauci told InStyle.

Fauci and his wife, Christine Grady, 67, a nurse bioethicist, power walk 3.5 miles together daily.

Fauci, who has been director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases for 36 years, used to be an avid runner — he ran seven miles every day at lunchtime for years, as well as marathons. In 1984, he completed the Marine Corps Marathon in three hours and 37 minutes, his personal best, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Fauci said he switched to power walking because it's gentler on his body. "I don't run very much anymore because at the end of the run, various parts of my body hurt so much," he told In Style.

Walking is great aerobic exercise, and it tends to be easier on the joints than running and other high-impact activities. It's recommended that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity (or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity) a week, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. A brisk walk for 30 minutes a day, five days a week, easily achieves that goal. 

For Fauci, running and walking is about more than just the physical benefits. When he used to run, the "endorphin level" he got made him feel great, he said in a 2016 interview with the National Institute on Aging.

"I think the benefit [of running], for me, is a stress reliever, because I have a pretty high-stress job," he said. "I spend about 15 hours a day in my office at the NIH, maybe more. So, getting outside in the day, and hearing the birds, and smelling the grass is kind of a very pleasing thing for me."

Now, power walks have become part of Fauci's new pandemic routine. "Power walking is very enjoyable and relaxing, and we look forward to it," Fauci told In Style.

Sometimes Fauci and Grady won't get around to walking until "late in the evening," Grady said. And Fauci admitted he tends to get so focused on work that he forgets to do basic things, like drink water and eat. "I get distracted and go into a zone," he said. (Grady reminds him to take care of himself: "I try to get him to rest, to drink water, to eat well, to sleep, and to be selective about what he agrees to and say no to some things," Grady told CNBC Make It in April.)

But they find a way to walk "for mental and physical health," Grady said.

Fauci is not the only high-profile fan of power walking.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren walks 6.6 miles a day because it's "grounding," she told GQ in August. "Sometimes it just really means circling the parking lot, but each time thinking, 'Okay, but I'm moving,'" she told GQ. She listens to fiction audiobooks on her walks.

Before the pandemic, Fauci said he would read books while he ran on the treadmill. "I really used to enjoy reading in the evening or on a plane or on the treadmill," he told InStyle. "I don't go on the treadmill anymore, and I haven't been on a plane since January."

These days, Fauci's exercise takes place outdoors. And if you're wondering if Fauci wears a mask while exercising outdoors in Northwest Washington D.C.? Yes, he told Yahoo! in June, but he will take breaks if there's nobody around.

"When I see people coming and there are people walking on the street, I put the mask back on so that when I'm way far from them — maybe 40 feet, 30 feet, 20 feet — as soon as I pass them and I'm alone again, I'll take it down a little," he said. "I think that's reasonable."

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