Gallup Poll Finds Rates of Regular Exercise Rising in US Communities

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The United States may be among the most obese nations in the world, but there is good news when it comes to those who exercise in America.

Those exercising 30 minutes or more, three or more days per week, jumped two percentage points from 2008 to 53.4% in 2016, according to the Gallup-Sharecare report “State of American Well-Being.” During the same period, those who didn’t exercise at all declined by almost three points to 27.4%.

Communities in Colorado and California reported the highest levels of regular exercise in the United States, according to the Gallup report. Residents of Boulder and Fort Collins in Colorado and San Luis Obispo, California, report the highest levels of regular exercise in the United States.

Boulder topped the list of 189 communities polled. “Boulder is a community with a track record of high well-being, high fresh produce consumption and extremely low rates of obesity,” the report said.

Of the communities on the Gallup list, the nation’s lowest community for regular exercise in 2016 was Hickory–Lenoir–Morganton in North Carolina. Six of the bottom 25 communities are in Ohio: Akron, Toledo, Cincinnati, Canton-Massillon, Youngstown-Warren-Boardman and Cleveland-Elyria.

The Gallup research also explored how rates of regular exercise vary by gender, age, race/ethnicity and income, as well as the impact that exercise has on other health behaviors, rates of chronic disease, emotions and sense of purpose.

Males top females in regular exercise by 4.5 percentage points. Rates decline by age, with 18-to-29-year-olds having a 10-point higher regular exercise rate than those age 65 and over.

Hispanics (55.5%) have the highest exercise rate among the major ethnic groups polled, followed by Asians (54.6%).

There is a correlation between regular exercise rates and income, with rates rising as income increases. Those with incomes of $90,000 or above post regular exercise rates of 58.4%, compared with a rate of 49.1% for those earning $36,000 or less.

The Gallup report said high exercise communities also benefit from higher rates of healthy eating, more fresh produce consumption and lower rates of smoking. These communities also have lower disease burden, with residents who have much lower rates of obesity and report approximately 30% less diagnoses of diabetes, depression, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and heart attack, as compared with the lowest 10 communities.

High exercise communities also have residents who evaluate their current and future lives more positively and feel safer and more secure.

A 24/7 Wall St. story in May said obesity — and even being overweight — can shave years off the average lifespan — up to 14 years in extreme obesity cases. The U.S. obesity rate has doubled since the early 1960s, and today obesity is the second-leading cause of premature death in the country.