Americans appear to be exercising more and more every year. When surveyed about their exercise habits, 73% of Americans reported they engaged in physical activity during their leisure time. Of course, exercise habits vary widely from state to state, and even more so from city to city. In Beckley, the laziest city in West Virginia, just 64.0% of residents report regular physical activity. Meanwhile in Burlington, the laziest city in Vermont, 83.6% of residents exercise regularly.
Exercise is an important determinant of overall health. Mississippi — the state where residents report the lowest levels of physical activity — also has the highest obesity rate. The situation is reversed in Colorado, where the highest level of physical activity coincides with the lowest obesity rate in the country.
In an interview with 24/7 Wall St., Amanda Jovaag, data lead at the County Health Rankings & Roadmaps, said, “I think there’s a general agreement that reporting that you have no leisure time physical activity is related to having a higher body mass index (BMI).” Other health risks are also associated with a lack of exercise. “Not getting your heart rate going at a higher level a few times a week or not doing muscle building exercises a few times a week results in greater incidence of heart disease, greater incidence of obesity, and diabetes,” Jovaag said.
Exercise habits are related to a variety of factors. Two persistent variables, however, appear to be income and education. Areas where residents have higher incomes and higher levels of education frequently have higher levels of physical activity and better health outcomes overall. “Wealthier, more educated communities are more likely to be healthy,” Jovaag said. “That’s true pretty much in every society out there.”
For the most part, even the laziest cities are representative of their state’s behavior overall. However, there are exceptions. Arizona is a relatively active state — nearly 80% of adults in the state exercise regularly. However, in Lake Havasu, it’s least active city, just 69.3% of area adults report regular physical activity. The health of a population varies within the state, and the tendency to exercise comes down to the metro level.
To identify the laziest city in every state, 24/7 Wall St. analyzed the level of physical activity in each metro area in all 50 states. We reviewed the percentage of adults in every metro area who report engaging in no physical activity during their leisure time, with data from County Health Rankings & Roadmaps, a collaboration between the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute. Obesity rate and days feeling physically unhealthy over a 30-day period also came from County Health Rankings & Roadmaps. Educational attainment, median household income, and population data came from the American Community Survey.
These are the laziest cities in each state.