History had Vlad the Impaler but modern Russia has Vlad the body beautiful, or so some would say. Wednesday there are claims that Russian President Vladimir Putin keeps in good shape with a mixture of exercise, saunas, massage, old-fashioned health remedies and honey.
Russian President Vladimir Putin may, or may not be, your cup of tea but there is no doubting that he appears in extremely good shape for a man now in his 60's. On October 7 Putin will celebrate his 61st birthday and he looks in better shape than many men who are half his age. Of course Russian spin doctors try to exaggerate matters such as Putin's wellbeing but in his case it seems that is hardly necessary.
So what does Mr Putin credit his good health and strong physique to?
Putin's doctor, Sergei Mironov, has gone on record saying that the man has a "magnificent capacity for work" mainly due to his rough and tumble hobbies such as judo and swimming, plus the fact he is "extremely careful what he puts inside his body."
He claims that Putin steers well clear of modern medicines when possible, preferring traditional, some would say "old wives", remedies. Vlad prefers tea with honey, massages and saunas, and what type of massages is not specified!
According to MSN News he is very careful what he puts into his body and, as they say, that is not surprising when you look back at his old KGB days. It is common knowledge that people were polished off by any means possible and that includes poisoning food and medication or just administering a lethal pill or injection.
Putin has also been extolling the virutes of exercise. He likes to play the alpha male and is often pictured bare-chested on horseback, playing hockey, enjoying a bout of judo or swimming.
Is Putin as fit as he seems on face value?
Hard to say. He has had some health problems, reportedly a bad back but that is not unusual at his time of life. Keeping fit is more difficult with age and it takes a strong will and a great deal of determination to keep at it under pressure. With the responsibility of leading a country comes a wide range of health-testing issues such as lack of sleep, stress and worry.
For the Russian President baring his soul and real persona will be much more difficult than simply baring his chest. That said western leaders also shy away from exposing their ailments or anything that could be seen as a weakness. It is however not such a big issue in the west where we accept our leaders are only human.
Staying young is impossible but we can all stay youthful. That involves a state of mind as well as physical attributes. As for staying young Putin's disappearing hair is an age giveaway and although some treatments for baldness are available they can make a person ultimately look even older.
It is doubtful that Putin will ever grow old gracefully and can you blame him for hanging on to what he has got? However as a President of Russia the pressure is on to portray a strong image and personal choice may not play a part.
It will involve staying one step ahead of the Presidential competition by playing superman on a daily basis.
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