Here Are the States That Are the Worst at Exercising

Only one-fifth of adults get enough exercise.

Flickr / supremenutrition

If you ever wondered if you’re bad at exercising, the US Department of Health and Human Services has quantified what it means to work out “enough.” Along with that definition, the CDC has determined that less than a quarter of US adults actually exercise as much as they should, and they’ve even ranked the states from most fit to least.

People between the ages of 18 and 64 are recommended to engage in at least two and a half hours of moderate exercise or an hour and 15 minutes of vigorous exercise each week, along with muscle-strengthening activities twice a week. If that sounds unrealistic based on your own history of working out, you’re not alone, because only 22.9 percent of people surveyed report meeting those guidelines.

What States Exercise the Most?

The reason the CDC even ranked states in the first place is because of the “Healthy People 2020” initiative created by the Department of Health and Human Services to encourage better public health. Their goal was to have 20.1 percent of the adult population meeting the exercise guidelines by 2020. That objective was met, but the breakdown by state indicates which ones could increase support for physical activity goals.

Colorado comes in first place, with 32.5 percent of surveyed residents getting enough exercise. Mississippi comes in last with only 13.5 percent saying the same. Thirty-one states are either significantly or slightly higher than the national average, with Utah, Wyoming, Arizona, Alaska, Idaho, Washington, California, Minnesota, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island leading the pack. Nineteen states are significantly or slightly below average, with South Dakota, Indiana, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, Florida, West Virginia, and New York at the bottom.

Adults in Southern states are visibly less likely to exercise enough, while those in Western states tend to perform higher than average. The Midwest and East Coast are a jumble of varying statistics.

Which Gender Exercises More?

Despite men being more likely to work in production or production-related fields, they are also more likely to meet the exercise guidelines than woman, with a national average of 27.2 percent. The average for women is 18.7 percent, a significant difference. The data also shows less regional concentration for men than women, even when work status was taken into account. In comparison, 20.9 percent of working women exercise enough, which meets the “Healthy People 2020” objective, but only 14.6 percent of non-working women meet the guidelines.

How Does Employment Affect Working Out?

The CDC reports most employees are sedentary throughout the workday, meaning that adults who meet the exercise guidelines are mostly doing so by working out as a leisurely activity. That could mean going to the gym or an exercise class, walking, jogging, running, or performing household tasks. Additionally, working out as a form of leisure has more health benefits than those who exercise as part of their job. And people in managerial or professional roles tend to meet the exercise guidelines more often than those working in production roles.

The study only assessed leisure exercise, so the researchers noted that states like New York, where six percent of commuters walk to work, would likely perform significantly better if non-leisure exercise was taken into account.

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