Where in the U.S. People Aren't Getting Enough Exercise, Mapped

iStock
iStock

The U.S. is a notoriously sedentary country. A huge portion of the population doesn't meet the government's recommendations for physical activity, and that can have some serious ramifications for public health. But not everyone is equally sedentary. Physical activity rates can vary significantly from state to state, as a CDC report spotted by Thrillist illustrates.

The U.S. government currently recommends that adults squeeze in 150 minutes of moderate physical activity each week, or 75 minutes of vigorous activity, plus two days a week of "muscle strengthening activities" like weight lifting or calisthenics. Across the board, the number of Americans between the ages of 18 and 64 who actually meet that recommendation hovers at around 23 percent, but some states are much more physically active than others. (Men were also more likely to meet the recommendation than women, and working people were more likely than non-working people to get the recommended amounts of exercise.) The map below draws on data from the 2010 to 2015 National Health Interview Surveys, part of which included questions about exercise habits.

A color-coded map of activity rates in the U.S. with active states in blue and inactive states in red
Age-adjusted percentages of adults aged 18–64 who met federal guidelines for physical activity from 2010-2015
National Center of Health Statistics

Some of the states with the highest rates of exercise are ones we already associate with health and outdoor activity. California, for instance, scores relatively high, with 24 percent of adults meeting the guidelines. Colorado has the highest percentage, at 32.5 percent. Meanwhile, the South, a region already associated with high rates of obesity and poor public health, has some of the lowest activity rates, including 13.5 percent in Mississippi.

It's not just a matter of region, though. Much of the Midwest, including Kansas, Nebraska, and Missouri, is at or slightly above the national average, while South Dakota is far below average. New York has a very low activity rate (18.9 percent) while next door, Pennsylvania has a much higher rate of 25.6 percent.

Even in more active states, these numbers may look exceedingly low. If—at the very best—less than a third of adults get enough exercise, that's bad news. But take a few caveats into account before you go judging the entire country as a bunch of couch potatoes. These are broad recommendations, and don't necessarily reflect everyone's health needs; people who are injured, disabled, or chronically ill, for example, aren't going to be able to go for hour-long runs every week, and they shouldn't.

Plus, there are some gaps in this data. The survey relates specifically to leisure time exercise, meaning that it can't reflect the full activity levels of people who have physically demanding jobs. If you're a door-to-door canvasser who walks all day, a yoga teacher, or a UPS driver who lugs boxes around, the bulk of your physical activity might not happen in your down time, but that doesn't mean you're not exercising. Commute time doesn't count as leisure, either, so the results don't factor in the exercise you might get if you bike or walk to work each day.

That said, there is plenty of other evidence that Americans spend too much time in their cars and in front of screens and not enough time moving. The problem is just much worse in Indiana than in Colorado.

[h/t Thrillist]

Every State’s Favorite Place to Spend Spring Break, Mapped

DisobeyArt, iStock via Getty Images
DisobeyArt, iStock via Getty Images

Spring break falls in March 2020 in many parts of the U.S., and if you still don't know where to go this year, check out the popular travel plans of people in your home state for some inspiration.

This map Travelocity put together using its own customer data shows the most disproportionately popular spring break destinations for residents of all 50 states and Washington, D.C. It should come as no surprise that Florida cities dominate the map. Orlando was the top springtime vacation spot of 10 states, including Texas, Georgia, and Massachusetts. Miami, Tampa, and Pensacola also appear on the list.

But not everyone craves warm weather this time of year. As college students flood their state, Florida natives flee north to Chicago. And some states farther north prefer vacation spots that are decidedly not tropical. In Idaho, spring-breakers are heading to Seattle, and in West Virginia, they're booking trips to Buffalo—neither of which are cities that come to mind when you think of margaritas and bikinis. You can find the preferences of your home state in the map below.

Map of top spring break destinations.
Travelocity

Spring break may seem like a modern phenomenon, but people have been using the arrival of the season as an excuse for debauchery since ancient Roman times. You can read more about the history of spring break here.

Here's How Daylight Saving Time Affects Your Part of the Country

Andy Woodruff
Andy Woodruff

Daylight saving time was created to benefit Americans, but not every part of the country is affected equally. Within the Eastern time zone, for instance, the sun rises a whole 40 minutes earlier in New York City than it does in Detroit. To illustrate how daylight saving time impacts sunrise and sunset times around the county, cartographer Andy Woodruff published a series of helpful maps on his website.

Below, the map on the left depicts how many days of reasonable sunrise time—defined as 7 a.m. or earlier—each part of the country is getting. The regions in the yellow sections have the most days with early sunrises and the darker parts have the fewest. On the right, the second map shows how many sunsets past 5 p.m. we’re getting each year, which appear to be a lot more abundant


Next, he visualized what these sunrise and sunset times would look like if daylight saving were abolished completely, something many people have been pushing for years. While our sunset times remain pretty much the same, the mornings start to look a lot sunnier for people all over the country, especially in places like West Texas.


And for those of you who were curious, here’s what America would look like if daylight saving time were in effect year-round. While mornings would look miserable pretty much everywhere, there’d at least be plenty of sunshine to enjoy once we got off work.


You can tinker with an interactive version of the daylight saving map on Woodruff’s blog.

All images courtesy of Andy Woodruff.

This article originally ran in 2015.

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