Well-Being Longevity

These are the most — and least — physically active states and territories in the US


Story at a glance

  • At least 15 percent of Americans reported being physically inactive.
  • Thirty percent of adults or more reported never exercising in several states.
  • Colorado is the most active state, while Puerto Rico had the highest rate of inactivity.

A new survey is shedding light on the exercise habits of Americans state by state. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released survey data from 2015 through 2018 Thursday. The telephone interview surveys carried out by the CDC and state health departments asked Americans across the country if they had participated in any “physical activities or exercises such as running, calisthenics, golf, gardening, or walking for exercise,” in the past month, outside of any work duties. 

The CDC found that across all 50 states, at least 15 percent of adults reported being physically inactive, and in some parts of the U.S., almost 50 percent of adults said they did not exercise at all. 

Colorado had the lowest percentage of people admitting they were physically inactive, at 17.3 percent, and Puerto Rico had the highest rate of inactivity, at 47.7 percent. 

Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee and Kentucky all had 30 percent or more of the adults who claimed to be physically inactive. Guam and Puerto Rico also fell into this category. 

Meanwhile, Washington, Utah, Oregon, Colorado and the District of Columbia were the most active in the country, with only 20 percent or less of the adults who claimed not to exercise.

While the lack of exercise seems to be a problem for Americans in general, black and Hispanic people reported higher rates of physical inactivity overall in the survey.

“Too many adults are inactive, and they may not know how much it affects their health,” Ruth Petersen, director of CDC’s Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity, said in a statement. “Being physically active helps you sleep better, feel better and reduce your risk for obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and some cancers.”

The CDC reports only half of U.S. adults get the physical activity they need to help reduce and prevent chronic diseases.

It is recommended that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity a week. 


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