In his appearance Thursday on “The Dr. Oz Show,” Donald Trump touched on various aspects of his health, including physical activity — saying that the “motion” he uses during speeches is a “pretty healthy act.” He’s previously made similar claims, telling People last year that “speaking is almost a form of exercise” for him.
Trump sure does gesticulate generously. But how does that translate into calories burned? Luckily scientists have come up with a standardized way to compare different forms of physical activity. The exertion is measured in units of METs, short for “metabolic equivalent of task.” This is a way of comparing how strenuous different activities are: watching television sitting down has a value of 1, tap dancing measures 4.8, and vigorously chopping down trees racks up 17.5 points. The values are collected in the “Compendium of Physical Activities.”
The compendium even has entries that could describe Trump’s behavior: “sitting, fidget hands” and “standing (fidgeting).” They fall between 1.5 and 2 on the physical activity scale.
So, if Trump gesticulated for the duration of a 45-minute stump speech, he’d burn between 120 and 160 calories.
That would seem to fall short of the exercise habits of sitting world leaders. In a 2008 letter, then-Senator Obama’s doctor wrote that he exercises regularly, “often jogging three miles.” Hillary Clinton “exercises regularly, including yoga, swimming, walking and weight training.” Canada’s prime minister and Mexico’s president were recently spotted running together.
If Trump was looking to do the equivalent of a 30-minute, 3-mile run completely with his hands, he’d have to gesticulate for between two and a half and three and a half hours.