Dr. Anthony Fauci Talks Fitness and Nutrition, Says Pandemic Took a Toll on His Healthy Lifestyle – PEOPLE

Dr. Anthony Fauci hasn’t let age slow him down.

The 81-year-old, who’s stepping down from his director role at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases this month, reflected on his decades-long career and told ABC News that he’s feeling healthy as he enters his next chapter.

“I would say I feel about 40, and maybe the most, 45,” he quipped. “And every time I remind myself [that I’m turning 82] I get a chill.”

Facui told the outlet that he feels great — he’s continued to take care of himself after being an athlete his whole life and picking up running in his late 30s. These days, he mostly stays fit by going for daily walks and sticking to good nutritional habits.

“The one good thing about it is I don’t do anything in excess,” Fauci said. “I don’t drink a lot, a glass of wine or a beer in the evening at the most.”

But he gives himself a “B minus” when it comes to his diet because of his sweet tooth.

“I could eat 20 chocolate chip cookies if I had to. And I love New York cheesecakes, but again, I try to control it,” Fauci added. “I would think among all the health things of exercise, moderation, things like that, my diet is the only one that I’m mediocre on and not really good.”

Dr. Anthony Fauci.
Tasos Katopodis/Getty

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Fauci admitted that although he focuses on health and wellness, he struggled to maintain his healthy lifestyle at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

He told ABC that he was losing weight, feeling sick, and only sleeping about four hours or less each night until his wife Christine Grady stepped in to help.

“One evening when I just could barely stay awake when I came home, she went, ‘Alright, that’s it. We’re going to stop this now. You’re going to eat, you’re going to drink water, you’re going to stay hydrated, and you’re going to sleep.’ And since then I’ve been okay,” Fauci said.

He added that being passionate about his career has also contributed to his ability to stay so active and healthy in his 80s.

“A purpose of what you’re doing, where you feel like you’re doing something that has an impact and you get very energetic about it, and that kind of sustains you,” he said.

Fauci first announced in August that he will step down from his director role at the NIAID by the end of the year in order to “pursue the next chapter” of his career. He explained to The New York Times that he’s “not retiring in the classic sense” and will spend his time traveling, writing, and encouraging the younger generation to enter government service.

“So long as I’m healthy, which I am, and I’m energetic, which I am, and I’m passionate, which I am, I want to do some things outside of the realm of the federal government,” Fauci told the outlet.

Following the announcement, President Joe Biden praised Fauci for his dedication to the role since 1984. He reflected on Fauci’s work when they “tackled” the COVID-19 pandemic together.

“I came to know him as a dedicated public servant, and a steady hand with wisdom and insight honed over decades at the forefront of some of our most dangerous and challenging public health crises,” Biden said in a statement. “His commitment to the work is unwavering, and he does it with an unparalleled spirit, energy, and scientific integrity.”

“Because of Dr. Fauci’s many contributions to public health, lives here in the United States and around the world have been saved. As he leaves his position in the U.S. Government, I know the American people and the entire world will continue to benefit from Dr. Fauci’s expertise in whatever he does next,” the president added at the time. “Whether you’ve met him personally or not, he has touched all Americans’ lives with his work. I extend my deepest thanks for his public service. The United States of America is stronger, more resilient, and healthier because of him.”