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Less than a quarter of the country exercises enough—here’s how your state stacks up


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Photo: Stocksy/Kate Daigneault

There are plenty of reasons that may have played into your choice of where to set down roots and create a home sanctuary. Maybe it was the perfect job, or being close to loved ones, or the number of vegan and vegetarian restaurants. Maybe it was a healthy combination of all three. Well, according to a just-released report, another thing that should be a key consideration is how active you plan to be, because residents of certain states are more likely than others to get in the recommended amount of exercise. Unfortunately though, the results show that no matter where you live, you’re probably not getting in nearly enough sweat seshes.

The data in the report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is from a federal health survey of 155,134 adults aged 18 to 64 in the 50 states and Washington, DC, from 2010 to 2015, and the results show that Americans have been slacking on meeting government-mandated fitness goals. Only about 23 percent of the population meets the prescribed amount of weekly exercise: two-and-a-half hours of moderate-intensity exercise or one hour and 15 minutes of vigorous aerobic exercise (or an equivalent combination of the two), plus two days of muscle-strengthening work. In other words, more than three-quarters of citizens don’t hit the mark.

Only about 23 percent of the population meets the federally prescribed amount of weekly exercise.

Although that number seems straight-up abysmal (like, come on, imagine getting a 23 percent on a test—#fail), the report found that the average rate of people meeting the recommendation varies drastically from state to state, and it pinpointed exactly where each state fell on the (slow-moving) national workout track.

cdc exercise ranking exercise states
Photo: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Fourteen states and Washington, DC, were “significantly” higher than the US average, and the top six of those are Colorado (32.5 percent), Idaho (31.4), New Hampshire and Washington, DC (30.7), Massachusetts and Vermont (29.5). On the opposite end of the spectrum, 13 states have significantly lower averages than the national one, and most are in the southeastern region of the United States, with the exception of Indiana, New York, Oklahoma, and South Dakota. The five states with the worst averages are Mississippi (13.5 percent), Kentucky (14.6), South Carolina (14.8), Indiana (15.1), and Arkansas (15.7).

One thing to keep in mind when interpreting this report if that the stats are not reflective of the past two and a half years—so it’s possible we’ve (hopefully) made literal strides to become a healthier nation in that time. After all, recent history has seen a rise in on-demand streaming workouts and budget-friendly studios that offer increased access to top-notch sweat sessions. So, fingers crossed we’re entering an era of exercise reformation in which anyone and everyone can get fit easily—no matter where “home” is.

Here’s how to meet your daily recommended workout goal by walking and Elle Macpherson’s advice for pulling yourself out of an exercise rut.

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