Colorado, Utah and the nation's capital have the fewest inactive residents while almost a third of people in the South are living a sedentary lifestyle, according to a study focused on the health benefits of exercise.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found more than 15% of adults in every state reported a shortage of physical activity, with Mississippi and Kentucky topping the list.
"Too many adults are inactive, and they may not know how much it affects their health," said Ruth Petersen, director of the CDC's Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity.
The CDC used data from annual surveys that asked more than 400,000 people to disclose how active they were in aerobic pursuits such as running, walking for exercise, or gardening. The study covered 2015 through 2018. Sedentary lifestyles add $117 billion to U.S. health-care costs annually and contribute to one in 10 premature deaths, the CDC said.
The CDC says adults need at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity and two days of muscle strengthening a week to achieve substantial health benefits.
"Being physically active helps you sleep better, feel better and reduce your risk of obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and some cancers," Petersen said in a statement released with the research, which was presented as a map showing states with high and low activity levels.
In a 2014 study, the CDC said 25.4% of Americans reported no physical activity, with Colorado the lowest on that measure and Mississippi the highest. The rankings were unchanged in the new study: Colorado showed the fewest people with no physical activity (17.3%), and Mississippi the highest (33%).
In seven states — Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma and Tennessee — 30% or more of all adults were physically inactive. Four states — Colorado, Washington, Utah and Oregon — plus the District of Columbia were at the other end, with less than 20% of the population inactive.
By region, the South led the nation with 28% of residents lacking physical activity, followed by the Northeast at 25.6%, the Midwest at 25% and the West at 20.5%.
The World Health Organization, using different data, in 2010 found that 23% of the global population isn't active enough. In high-income countries, 26% of men and 35% of women were insufficiently active, higher than the inactive rate of 12% of men and 24% of women in low-income countries.
The U.S. is pushing communities to make it easier for people to be less sedentary. The goal is to help 27 million Americans become more physically active by 2027. The CDC's "Active People, Healthy Nation" initiative relies on partnerships with local communities.