HOUSTON -

Former President George H.W. Bush was released from a Houston hospital Monday.

The 88-year-old former president was discharged from Methodist Hospital after a seven-week stay for complications due to bronchitis.

"Mr. Bush has improved to the point that he will not need any special medication when he goes home, but he will continue physical therapy," said Dr. Amy Mynderse, the internal medicine physician in charge of the former president's care.

"I am deeply grateful for the wonderful doctors and nurses at Methodist who took such good care of me," said President Bush. "Let me add just how touched we were by the many get-well messages we received from our friends and fellow Americans. Your prayers and good wishes helped more than you know, and as I head home my only concern is that I will not be able to thank each of you for your kind words."

What's next for the former president?

"His plans are to get back to life as quickly as he can," said Jim McGrath, Bush's spokesman. "Being in the hospital for seven weeks take a little bit of wind out of your sail. He's been there for 52 days so when the word was given, he was clear to go, wheels were turning, the gears were turning. He was ready to go. They say for every day you're in the hospital it takes roughly three days to recover from that. So he's going to be focusing on that trying to get a little bit more pep back into his step. But before long I'm sure he'll be back out and about around town and going to have lunch."

Something that's on Bush's to-do list is attending the Houston Astros' opening day.

President Bush was hospitalized on Nov. 23 for a nagging cough caused by bronchitis. He overcame numerous setbacks, including a stubborn fever and a six-day stay in the ICU.

With his wife, former first lady Barbara Bush by his side, the former president passed the time by watching lots of Texas football, including the Cotton Bowl and the Houston Texans playoff games. He was said to be reading John Meacham's newly released biography on Thomas Jefferson, and engaged in banter and jokes with the hospital staff.

Four months older than former President Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush is the oldest of the living former presidents.

George H.W. Bush through the years

Published On: Nov 29 2012 10:58:43 AM CST   Updated On: Aug 23 2012 03:39:16 PM CDT

Take a look at President George H.W. Bush's life.

1 / 26

George H.W. Bush was born June 12, 1924, in Milton, Mass., to senator and investment banker Prescott Bush and Dorothy Walker Bush. Here he's seen with sister, Nancy, at age 5 in 1929.