Special Report

The Laziest City in Every State

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.  

Insufficient exercise is a major public health challenge across the United States, but in some parts of the country, the problem is far worse than in others. 

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 metropolitan area in each state. Metro areas are ranked by the share of adults 20 or older who never exercise in their leisure time. Four states — Delaware, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont — have only one metro area. As a result, these areas rank as the least active in their state by default only. 

Though each metro on this list ranks as the least physically active in its state, the share of adults who never exercise varies considerably in these places — from less than 17% to over 35%. Nationwide, 22.7% of adults never exercise.  

Given the benefits associated with regular exercise, it is perhaps not surprising that overall health outcomes are often worse in places where larger shares of the population are not physically active. For example, in the majority of metro areas on this list, both the obesity rate and the share of adults who report being in fair or poor health are higher than the respective statewide averages. Here is a look at the most obese states in America

For many residents of the metro areas on this list, a lack of regular physical exercise is partially attributable to limited opportunities. In most of these places, 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. 

Click here to see the laziest metro area in every state
Click here to read our detailed methodology