PARIS – French President Nicolas Sarkozy insisted his health was "good" Wednesday, but he acknowledged he was "really tired" as he made his first official appearance since an overnight hospital stay following his collapse while jogging.
"I need to rest," he told reporters outside the Elysee presidential palace following the regular weekly Cabinet meeting. "I'm not above the rules of physics, I am a human being," he said.
The 54-year-old leader collapsed while running in the midday heat on Sunday on the grounds of the Chateau de Versailles. He was whisked via helicopter to Paris' Val-de-Grace hospital, where he underwent nearly 24 hours of observation and a battery of cardiological tests. The results of the exams were normal, his office has said.
"I want to tell the French people that my health is good," Sarkozy said in brief remarks. "I was really tired."
Sarkozy was released from the hospital on Monday, but events scheduled for Monday and Tuesday were canceled to allow the French leader to rest.
Wednesday's Cabinet Meeting -- a seemingly dull event dominated by discussion about the future of the French postal system -- marked the final event on Sarkozy's schedule before the start of the government's three-week-long summer holiday. French media have said Sarkozy and his wife, ex-supermodel-turned-singer Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, will spend their vacation at her family's compound on the Mediterranean.
Sarkozy's collapse sparked worries that the French leader's frenetic activity is taking a toll on his health. Sarkozy, a teetotaler, has made seemingly constant activity -- foreign trips, domestic meetings and his very public exercise sessions -- a hallmark of his presidency.
He insisted his lifestyle was a healthy one, saying: "With my wife, we never go out at night, never go to dinners. I don't drink, as you know, and don't smoke cigarettes, though I do enjoy a cigar once in the while."
"Really, I don't live in the fast lane, as you well know," he said.
In France, the private lives of elected officials are considered just that, and the media have long resisted reporting on their health, their romantic entanglements and illegitimate children, though that tradition has been fading under Sarkozy, who courts the spotlight.
Still, speaking Wednesday, he ruled out paring down his schedule, saying his role required him to keep busy.
Sunday's episode touched a sensitive nerve in France, where the health of the country's leaders has long been shrouded in secrecy -- so much so that the public didn't even learn of former President Georges Pompidou's bone marrow cancer until after he died of it, while in office, on April 2, 1974.
Former President Francois Mitterrand was dogged by rumors of health problems throughout much of his 14 years in office and ordered his doctor to systematically falsify his health bulletins. He died of prostate cancer just months after leaving office in 1995.
Sarkozy's predecessor, Jacques Chirac, was hospitalized for a week at Val-de-Grace in 2005 for a vascular problem when he was 72, and officials never fully explained what was wrong with him.
During the presidential campaign that brought him into office in 2007, Sarkozy pledged transparency about his state of health. He renewed Wednesday his commitment for transparency on the issue, saying that if his recent medical exams had turned up a problem "I would have told you, I ask you to believe me."