We have plenty of excuses why we slacked on exercising in any given week — we had to work late, it rained two days in a row, we were obligated to get birthday drinks with our friend — and most of the time, the real reason is that we were lazy and just didn’t make the time. Now there’s yet another factor to blame besides ourselves: According to a recent Gallup-Sharecare poll, the amount we exercise is tied to where we live.
The report, titled the State of American Well-Being: 2016 Community Rankings for Exercise, published Tuesday, ranked the U.S. communities (in some cases, cities were combined to reflect a metropolitan area, such as NYC, Jersey City and Newark) in which folks worked out the most and least “regularly” — defined as 30 minutes a day, three or more days a week. The research was based on 354,473 phone interviews conducted across all 50 states between January 2015 and December 30, 2016.
Of the 189 communities included in the list, Boulder, Colorado came in at no. 1, with almost 70 percent of residents reporting a regular exercise habit — no real surprise there, as the crunchy, mountainous town is a favorite of skiers, hikers and runners. The top five included Fort Collins, Colo., San Luis Obispo–Paso Robles, California, Greeley, Colo., and Santa Rosa, Calif.
Hickory–Lenoir–Morganton, North Carolina came in dead last, with 41.8 percent of residents exercising regularly. Also in the bottom five: the cities of Toledo and Akron, Ohio, Montgomery, Alabama, and Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
What about major East Coast communities? Boston–Cambridge–Newton fared the best, ranking at no. 104 with 52.9 percent of active residents. Philadelphia–Camden–Wilmington came in at no. 138 and 50.1 percent, and New York–Newark–Jersey City came in at no. 167 and 49.1 percent.
Overall, the research showed that exercise is on the upswing in this country: 53.4 percent of Americans exercised regularly in 2016, the highest percentage since Gallup and Sharecare began collecting national data on health back in 2008.
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The findings reiterated the correlation between exercise and wellbeing, with the top 10 highest ranked cities reporting 30 percent less obesity, diabetes, depression, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and incidences of heart attack compared to the bottom 10. Additionally, the top communities reflected a more positive outlook and sense of community involvement, lower rates of smoking and higher instances of healthy eating, such as consumption of fresh produce.
View the complete report here.