What are the benefits of an active life? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it can help lower blood pressure, combat type 2 diabetes, stay at a healthy weight and sharpen awareness, as well as help with sleep. The CDC asks a lot of Americans who want to stay healthy. It recommends 150 minutes a week of moderate exercise, like walking, or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise a week, such as jogging. Additionally, the CDC recommends strength training, like lifting weights. In contrast, most people sleep about 480 minutes a week. In other words, exercise is supposed to be a big commitment.
The amount of physical activity varies a great deal from state to state and city to city. While insufficient exercise is a major public health challenge in the United States, there are parts of the country where adults are far more likely than average to lead active lifestyles.
Using data from County Health Rankings & Roadmaps (CHR), a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute joint program, 24/7 Wall St. identified the most physically active metropolitan area in the United States.
For every metro we examined to pick the most active one, the share of adults who exercise is higher than 82%, compared to 77.3% of adults nationwide. Most of these metros are located in western states, including 10 in California and seven in Washington.
Given the benefits associated with regular exercise, it is perhaps not surprising that overall health outcomes are often better in places where larger shares of the population are physically active. For example, in nearly every metro area we considered, both the obesity rate and the share of adults who report being in fair or poor health are lower than the respective national averages of 29.7% and 16.5%.
The analysis revealed that the most active metro in America is Boulder, Colorado. Here are the details:
- Adults who exercise: 91.1%
- Population with access to places for physical activity: 96.2% (18th highest of 384 metros)
- Adult obesity rate: 14.3% (the lowest)
- Adults with diabetes: 5.5% (second lowest)
- Adults reporting poor or fair health: 11.2% (the lowest)
- Physically unhealthy days per month: 3 (fifth lowest)
We used the 384 metropolitan statistical areas as delineated by the United States Office of Management and Budget and used by the Census Bureau as our definition of metros.
Metros were ranked based on the adult physical inactivity rate. This rate is defined as the share of adults 20 years and older who report no leisure-time physical activity. While the CHR report is from 2021, physical inactivity figures published in the report are from 2017.
Additional information on the share of the population with adequate access to locations for physical activity, the share of adults 20 years and older who report a body mass index of 30 kg/m2 or higher (considered obese), the share of adults 20 years and older with diagnosed diabetes, the share of adults reporting poor or fair health and the average number of physically unhealthy days reported in the past 30 days also came from the 2021 CHR.