September 08, 2009 12:30 PM

He may be the leader of the free world, but President Barack Obama still makes sure he takes time out to keep fit and healthy.

“Since I was a kid – when I looked at my grandfather, at 55 he already looked old, President Obama tells Men’s Health‘s October issue. These days, at 55, people are in the prime of life.”

You can even see the president’s commitment to a healthy lifestyle in the Oval Office, where he keeps a bowl of apples.

“It was our first step toward health reform,” he jokes.

The president’s been talking a lot about health – his own and the nation’s – ever since the health-care reform package began floundering in Congress, and says a lot of his belief in the reform comes from his own experiences.

“Even when I was a community organizer – I was paid $13,000 a year – I benefited from the fact that the guy who hired me insisted that I get health care as part of the package,” Obama says. “And, you know, at the age of 24, 25, you think you re immortal. So I was thinking to myself, boy, I could use that money to pay the rent. But he was very firm about everybody having health care, and I think that he did me a great service during that time.”

But don’t expect President Obama to take a break from his six-days-a-week exercise regimen – even though he’s under a lot of pressure at work. In fact, he finds he appreciates good gym time more the harder his job gets.

“My blood pressure is pretty low, and I tend to be a healthy eater. So I probably could get away with cutting [my workouts] back a little bit,” he says. “The main reason I do it is just to clear my head and relieve me of stress.”

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