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.
Though the importance of physical activity is well established, over 55 million American adults lead completely sedentary lifestyles. Physical inactivity accounts for about one in every 10 premature deaths in the U.S. and also has broader social costs — presenting an estimated $117 billion burden on the health care system annually, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
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, a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute joint program, 24/7 Tempo identified the most physically active county in each state. County and county equivalents are ranked by the share of adults 20 or older who report some leisure time physical activity.
Though each county or county equivalent on this list ranks as the most physically active in its state, the share of adults who exercise with some regularity varies considerably in these places — from about 75% to over 90%. Nationwide, 77.3% of adults exercise in their leisure time.
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 the vast majority of counties on this list, both the obesity rate and the share of adults who report being in fair or poor health are lower than the respective statewide averages. Here is a look at the most obese states in America.