Sebelius Practices What She Preaches on Healthcare

The avid runner has a healthy lifestyle.

By + More

By Paul Bedard, Washington Whispers

Since we have a president from Niketown, it shouldn't be a surprise that he wanted a health and human services secretary with a little swoosh. And hoopster President Obama got it in Kathleen Sebelius. She doesn't just talk healthy living, she practices it. "I've been a runner for years, and I always feel better when I get up and start my day with a run," says the former Kansas governor, who is now leading the pack of officials in Washington's marathon healthcare debate. She's not a wimpy jogger, either: She packs in 3 to 5 miles a day, with longer runs on weekends. "She's giving her security detail a workout," says an associate.

Sebelius hopes to set an example of how easy it is for families to stay healthy. "We know that getting some exercise can make you feel better, and it can also make our families healthier," she tells Whispers. "That's why we're so focused on prevention and wellness initiatives as part of health reform."

To show that there is hope for the rest of us weaklings, she's teamed with Teddy, the Washington Nationals' mascot who has never won a base-running race with the baseball team's other presidential mascots, Tom, Abe, and George. (You know, as in Roosevelt, Jefferson, Lincoln, and Washington.) It was for the taping of a stadium public-service announcement promoting ways fans can avoid spreading the flu, like washing their hands and coughing into their arms. "They're so easy, even Teddy can do them," she says. But the running? "Poor Teddy always loses," says Sebelius. "I tried to give him some running tips to help end his losing streak, but he's great at fighting the flu, and we'll keep working on the running."

Illustration by Ed Wexler for USN&WR

Check out our Whispers political caricatures.

View recent political cartoons.

Follow Paul and Nikki on Twitter.

Read more Washington Whispers.