On the CDC map above, yellow indicates counties in which less than 19.9% of the population was inactive (the lowest quintile), while dark blue represents counties in which more than 32.6% residents (the highest quintile) did not exercise in their free time.
We looked at the counties with the lowest levels of inactivity, and then determined which major cities lay within them. We defined a major city as having a population of at least 40,000 and a metro area with more than 100,000 residents. Those parameters eliminated some smaller super-active cities like Auburn, Calif. and South Lake Tahoe, Calif — which would have ranked No. 3 and No. 8 respectively — but we wanted our list to represent as much of each county as possible.
Many of the top 15 most active cities have certain characteristics in common. With few exceptions, they are located in the Western U.S. and tend not to be huge megalopolises. They have an abundance of recreational outdoor space and are predictably located near popular recreational areas — exactly the kind of cities you'd probably move to, if being active and outdoorsy were a priority.
The bigger cities included on the list tended to be those with city-sponsored bike lanes and prominent "greenway" or other trail systems. Still, many major U.S. metropolitan areas like Los Angeles, Miami, Chicago and New York — though image-conscious and full of gym rats — didn't make the list, perhaps because of the disparity of wealth or their 'round-the-clock working cultures.
There were also some geographic clusters of low inactivity: of the 15 least inactive cities, four were in the Denver metro area, while another three were located just north of the Bay Area. But the list has a few surprises. Residents of snow-bound Minneapolis still got out there and exercised, for instance. The rest of the country could learn a lot from the residents of these active cities, who show that getting exercise during your free time — even if you don't have much of it — is not impossible.
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Researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have created a fascinating map of the U.S. showing — down to the county level — the geographical distribution of our sloth. But we at Healthland prefer to look on the bright side, so we’ve taken the data on inactivity and compiled a list of the 15 most active cities in the country. Do you live in one of them?