Working out and staying active are key factors in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) echo the sentiment, adding that regular exercise reduces the risk of illness and disease.

The healthiest people living in cities across America usually incorporate exercise in their everyday activities such as walking instead of taking a cab, or going for a daily morning walk or run. Some cities are more active than others and this can be due to a number of factors such as landscape and weather.

For example, the most active city in America is Boulder, Colorado with over 90 percent of the adult population reported to taking the time to exercise daily. In comparison, one of the least active cities, Beckley, West Virginia, the percentage is closer to 33%, or about one-third of the adult population who reportedly exercise daily.

So which are America’s most active cities? The creator of the following list, 24/7 Wall Street, tapped county health rankings and business patterns to create an index based on the share of residents reporting regular daily activity and the number of gyms per resident, to make their determinations and compile their findings. Other criteria included obesity rates and the percentage of people reporting fair to poor health.

They rated 50 cities throughout the U.S. in all.  Here, based on their criteria, are the 10 most active:

10. Madison, Wisconsin

9. Missoula, Montana

8. Fort Collins, Colorado

7. Corvallis, Oregon

6. San Luis-Obispo – Paso Robles – Arroyo Grande, California

5. Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, Connecticut

4. Napa, California

3. Barnstable Town, Massachusetts

2. Santa Cruz-Watsonville, California

1. Boulder, Colorado

Having easy access to an exercise venue seems a crucial factor and is likely one of the reasons that Boulder came out on top, with an average of 20 fitness and recreation centers for every 100,000 people, more gyms per resident than any other city in the country. However, that’s not the only factor to take into account for the city’s overall health.

Get Moving Regardless of Your Geography

Learning which cities or areas of the country are the most active is interesting, and if you happen to live in one of them, good for you! But that doesn’t mean the rest of us have to resign ourselves to becoming couch potatoes or internet addicts.

According to the Mayo Clinic, if your goal is simply being healthier and living longer, new evidence suggests that committing just 15 minutes a day for moderate to vigorous exercise will get you there.

Defining “Moderate to Vigorous” Activity

To add a twist to the old saying about one person’s ceiling, “moderate” for one person can be considered “vigorous” to another. Check out the following suggestions for moderate and vigorous exercise routines:

Moderate 15 Minute Activities

  • a brisk walk (at least 3 miles per hour)
  • bicycling (keep it under 10 miles per hour for a moderate workout)
  • ballroom dancing
  • water aerobics
  • general gardening chores

Vigorous 15 Minute Activities

  • race walking or running
  • swimming laps
  • bicycling 10 miles per hour or faster
  • aerobic dancing (put on some energetic, up-beat tunes)
  • heavy gardening defined as continuous digging or hoeing

Naturally, doing any of these activities for longer periods of time will yield greater results. Start slowly if you’re out of shape, and work your way up. Don’t push yourself, and be sure to check in with your doctor to make sure that any condition you have doesn’t necessitate some modifications.

Exercise Makes Life Better

We all know that exercise is good for us. Human bodies were designed for movement, and a sedentary lifestyle means we’re not moving enough. Since the onset of the digital age, obesity rates in America have grown steadily. An entire generation of children are spending at least as much time on laptops and smart phones as they are playing outdoors.

Many adults also neglect the need for daily exercise. If motivation is a problem, as it is for many, consider these 6 good reasons to get off the couch or shut down the computer and get moving:

  • Exercise controls weight.
  • It fights disease and other health problems.
  • Exercise improves mood by releasing endorphins in the brain.
  • It boosts energy.
  • Exercising regularly promotes better sleep. (Just don’t exercise too close to bedtime!)
  • It can also make you more social, which is good for mental health.

Aim for 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise. You’ll be happier and healthier, both physically and mentally. And isn’t that something everybody wants?

Sources:

http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/exercise/art-20048389

http://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/index.html