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New Finding Reveals President John F. Kennedy's New Exercise Routine Was Healing His Back Pain

Many boomers, in their formidable years were impacted by the first president that truly had an influence on an entire generation. JFK was truly "their president", youthful, handsome, and the air of Camelot. But all of that ambition, drive and success that JFK possessed was during a 20 period of unbearable back pain. But recent papers released last month to the Kennedy Library indicate that JFK was making excellent progress in overcoming his back ailment and had he not been assassinated in Dallas in 1963, he would have been viewed as an energetic, athletic candidate in the next election.

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Boston

The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library made public that JFK was being treated by Dr. Hans Kraus, an Austrian-born exercise guru, starting in 1961 who placed him on an exercise routine to rebuild his core strength.

Kraus' records show that the president's vigor and comfort were increasing as he performed more of the leg lifts, knee bends, and other exercises Kraus oversaw during at least 85 meetings with the president.

The exercise routine regained the president's strength to the point where Kraus felt Kennedy was ready to take up jogging and throw away a rigid back corset he had long worn for support. Kennedy's secretary, Evelyn Lincoln, would later write to Kraus that, thanks to him, Kennedy was able to toss 2-year-old John-John in the air for the first time.
John Kennedy
Former President John F. Kennedy stoops over to play with John Jr. Behind him is his famous rocking chair. Kennedy endured 20 years of back pain, but due to exercise made significant strides just before his untimely death.

A 20-Year History of Back Pain

Kennedy had endured more than 20 years of back pain. The causes were multiple, such as a car accident; a football injury; and most famously, the sinking of his boat, PT-109. during World War II. His condition was exacerbated by Addison's disease. Twice, in 1954 and 1955, Kennedy had been so close to death from infections after back surgeries that a priest had been called in to perform the last rites.

Exercise As A Cure

Kraus, well known in New York for using exercise to speed recovery from injuries, was trained as an orthopedic surgeon at the University of Vienna. He was summoned to the White House in 1961, after Kennedy's regular physicians became alarmed by the president's condition. For months, Kennedy had found it difficult even to rise from a chair, and he often relied on crutches when not in public.
Kraus agreed to treat Kennedy and set a plan of three therapy sessions a week in the White House gym and a drastic reduction in the back injections. He also set a goal of getting rid of the corset Kennedy wore on a daily basis.

Over the next two years, Kennedy made dramatic progress. He started taking stairs instead of elevators, and donning swim fins to make kicking in the White House pool more challenging. By May 1963, two years after Kennedy had last swung a golf club, Kraus told the president he could safely resume playing, according to medical records.

Kennedy Would Have Been a Poster Child for Fitness

Just prior to his assassination in 1963, Kennedy agreed to expand his workouts to include jogging and other fitness activities. He also promised to stop wearing the corset. Kraus hoped that Kennedy was about to lead a national fitness crusade, as he had urged, ''to combat the physical and psychological effects of our soft, sedentary, self-indulgent way of life."


Posting date: 05/07/2006

Source: Scott Allen Boston Globe



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