Image Credit: Getty Images/Brendan Hoffman
When Jill Biden sets her mind to raising awareness about something, she does it. During her years juggling Second Lady duties with her full-time job as an English professor, Biden has supported military families, founded the Biden Breast Health Initiative, promoted literacy with her Book Buddies program, and championed community colleges.
Right now, she’s focused on making sure that American people sign up for healthcare coverage.
As part of the Affordable Care Act, eligible Americans can get private health insurance through the health insurance marketplace. Health insurance companies can no longer deny coverage due to pre-existing conditions, or drop someone for being sick. Open enrollment for 2016 healthcare plans ends on January 31, 2016.
Dr. Biden, age 64, is a strong proponent of exercise and health. A longtime runner, she completed the 1998 Marine Corps Marathon and tries to run five miles a day. She has also been spotted at barre classes around D.C. In an interview with SELF, Dr. Biden shared her favorite workouts, how she gets her family to eat healthily, and why it’s so important for everyone to have access to healthcare.
So the deadline for health insurance open enrollment is coming up, and you want to encourage as many people as possible to get covered—especially women.
It really is important for women to sign up for [insurance]. As grandmothers, as sisters, we are the caregivers mainly in our families. So if we’re signing up, we have to make sure our children are signed up. It has a domino effect where you take care of people in your family.
Being a woman is no longer a pre-existing condition. The Affordable Care Act has done away with that and they are focused on preventative healthcare, which is a really important part of it. I make sure my sisters get their mammograms, and that they get pap smears and that they take care of themselves. I check on them constantly. And I just came from a meeting with my husband where I kind of whispered to him “Hey, you’ve got to get to the dentist.”
How do you personally prioritize being healthy?
I make it a priority in my life. Each and every week before I do my scheduling, I sit down with my scheduler and we set up appointments of when I can. I run and I take barre class. I exercise every single day. It is part of my daily schedule. Whether it’s 6:30 in the morning or 6:30 at night, it is part of my daily routine. And I don’t just exercise to make myself look better. I think exercise and being healthy creates total balance in life. People have to find what works for them. So for me, running and doing the barre class and weights—that works for me. And if walking works for you, or cycling, or golfing, whatever it is, you should find something you love that you are passionate about. And make that your exercise, because then you’ll do it.
You’re a busy person who is wearing a lot of hats. You are a teacher, and a public figure, and so it’s inspirational for people to look to someone who has so much going on who still makes the time to be healthy.
Well I mean, look at the First Lady! Look at her schedule, and she has her “Let’s Move” initiative and has gotten Americans to be aware of how much they do not eat healthy and exercise. In my life, I teach full-time and then I have my job as Second Lady. But health is a priority for me. Because if you’re not healthy, then what do you do? I try to set an example for my children. They’re all athletes. And with my students, I try to encourage them. If they’re stressed, they journal it to me like “I’m so stressed out! What can I do!” I say, look. Find time to walk, to clear your head. To just think about things. I promote it in my class.
When women get together, we talk about how to recreate and maintain this balance in our lives. And I think you can only maintain balance, and have balance, if you exercise.
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