Healthcare Economy

This Is America's Laziest County

How do lazy people spend their time? Among the findings of the Census Bureau’s “American Time Use Survey — May to December 2019 and 2020 Results” were that “watching TV” took up 3.1 hours per day. People 15 to 19 years old spent 1.9 hours a day playing video games or using computers for leisure. Although the bureau did not say, the introduction of the smartphone may make this figure even higher over time. Watching TV and playing on personal computers are sedentary, which has some bad effects.

But, what is it to be lazy, exactly? According to Merriam-Webster “disinclined to activity or exertion : not energetic or vigorous.” That begs the question of what lazy people do. There must be categories of laziness, one would think. Do lazy people sleep, watch too much TV, play board games or drive around endlessly with no particular place to go.

Lack of physical activity can have negative consequences. Although the solution requires discipline, it does not require any special equipment or location.

Exercise is one of the most effective ways for people to improve their overall health. Regular exercise has been shown to reduce the risk of depression, weight gain, and certain chronic diseases, while improving cognitive function, sleep quality, and physical balance — among many other benefits.

Using data from County Health Rankings & Roadmaps, a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute joint program, 24/7 Tempo identified the least physically active county in the United States.

The share of adults who do not exercise among the counties and county equivalents we considered ranges from nearly 40% to over 50%. Meanwhile, 22.7% of the 20 and older population nationwide lead completely sedentary lifestyles.

For many residents of the counties we looked at, a lack of regular physical exercise is partially attributable to limited opportunities. In each of the least active U.S. counties, the share of the population living in close proximity to places to exercise, like parks or recreational facilities, is below the 84.2% national average. In the majority of these counties, less than half the population have access to such places.

The laziest county in America is Prairie County, Arkansas. Here are the details:

> Adults who don’t exercise: 50.4%
> Pop. with access to places for physical activity: 40.7% — 507th lowest of 3,100 counties
> Adult obesity rate: 36.0% — 1,059th highest of 3,106 counties
> Adults with diabetes: 13.2% — 1,128th highest of 3,106 counties
> Adults reporting poor or fair health: 25.0% — 559th highest of 3,106 counties
> Physically unhealthy days per month: 5.3 — 388th highest of 3,106 counties

Methodology: To determine America’s county 24/7 Tempo reviewed adult physical inactivity rates from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute joint program’s 2021 County Health Rankings & Roadmaps report.

The physical inactivity 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.

Of the 3,220 counties or county equivalents, 3,142 had boundaries that fell within one of the 50 states or the District of Columbia.

Counties with a 2019 five-year population estimate from the U.S. Census Bureau of less than 1,000 were excluded.

The remaining 3,106 places were ranked based on the adult physical inactivity rate. 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, 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.

Click here to read America’s Laziest Counties

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