Former Cuban president Fidel Castro is in good health, according to one of his sons in remarks cited Friday by local media.

Castro, 86, is "going about his daily activities. He exercises, reads and stays in shape," son Alex Castro Soto del Valle said in Guantanamo, as he presented a photo exhibit dedicated to his father, Cuba's AIN news agency reported.

The comments were widely picked up by local media, including official websites with close links to the government.

The remarks come amid a wave of rumors on social media that the elder Castro -- who gave up power in 2006 for health reasons -- had died.

After relegating his duties to brother Raul, Cuba's former leader has taken to writing, publishing more than 400 "reflections" in official Cuban media outlets. From time to time, he also receives visits from foreign dignitaries.

However, his last publication came out June 19. And his last public appearances date back even earlier, to March 28, with Pope Benedict XVI, and April 5, with Chilean student leader Camila Vallejo.

In August, Castro celebrated his 86th birthday quietly and out of the public eye.

During his decades in power, Castro fiercely guarded his privacy, to the point that many Cubans do not even know the name of his wife, Dalia Soto del Valle, and of the five children they have together.

A communist icon at the height of the Cold War, the unrepentant anti-American and anti-imperialist leader is seen by supporters as a great revolutionary and by critics as a merciless dictator.

[Image via Agence France-Presse]