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The Most Active States in America

Physical activity significantly improves our health and wellness, but which states are the most active? Check out our findings and see where your state ranks!
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Americans aren't exactly known for their health, but some take physical activity to another level. Physical activity unlocks several health benefits, and anyone can benefit from some form of it. Exercise and physical activity can help us get in shape and reach our health goals, but they can also improve mental health and cognitive functions. The benefits apply to people of all ages, and everyone can find an activity that suits their interests and abilities. 

At Top Nutrition Coaching, we believe in making healthy living an easier reality, and this isn't possible without activity and exercise. Physical activity is essential to everyone's health and wellness, and we wanted to see which states are the most active. We've compiled the national statistics for adults who walk or bike to work, engage in physical activity and leisure time, and meet muscle strength guidelines to rank the most active states. Check out where your state ranks and other relevant findings related to physical activity! 

Interesting Findings

  • Montana and Vermont are the most active states in America, and both fall within the top seven of every activity category. 
  • Mississippi ranks as the least active state and is near the bottom of most activity categories. 
  • Some states known for hiking, snowsports, and the outdoors–like Montana, Colorado, and Alaska typically rank higher than coastal or beach states like Hawaii, California, and Florida. 
  • Several of America's least active states, such as Mississippi, Kentucky, Alabama, Missouri, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Tennessee, are located in the South. 
  • Most US states with a major city–like New York, Illinois, and California–usually have a high rank in the adults who walk or bike to work category, but none except for the District of Columbia rank within the overall top ten. 

Why Physical Activity Matters

Physical activity promotes healthy living and is one of the most crucial elements to getting in shape and improving our well-being. Many people work from home or sit at a desk, and physical activity may not always be a priority. However, simple activities such as daily walks, exercise, or even yard work can benefit our health and wellness. Some studies suggest that moderate to vigorous forms of physical activity can improve brain health in people of all ages. Physical activity can improve children's cognitive abilities, and adults can feel less anxious or depressed. Regular exercise and physical engagement unlock several physical and mental health benefits, leading to more organized and sound lives. 

Physical activity also has a significant impact on weight management and physical health. Physical activity is necessary to achieve our desired outcome regardless of the health goal, such as losing or gaining weight. Additionally, physical activity is proven to reduce multiple health risks, such as heart disease and types of cancer. Moderate forms of physical activity can lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, help prevent numerous diseases, and improve heart health

Our bodies need engagement, and physical activity allows us to feel better and improve our health in several ways. Anyone can find a physical activity that works for them, and regular engagement can lead to multiple benefits in a relatively short time. Even going for a walk gets us outside and stretches our legs, which can clear our minds during stressful days. Physical activity doesn't have to be a chore, and with some trial and error, everyone can find something that improves their health and mental wellness. 


We analyzed various sets of data from the CDC concerning physical activity among adults in the United States. We looked at the percentage of adults that walk or bike to work, participate in consistent physical activity, engage in muscle-strengthening activities, and don't engage in physical activity during their free time. For states that didn't have available data in any given data set, we took the overall average of the states that had available data.


  • CDC - Percent of adults in the state who usually biked or walked to work in the last week
  • CDC - Percent of adults who achieve at least 300 minutes a week of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity or 150 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity (or an equivalent combination)
  • States with no data available: New Jersey
  • CDC - Percent of adults who achieve at least 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity or 75 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity and engage in muscle-strengthening activities on 2 or more days a week
  • States with no data available: New Jersey
  • CDC - Percent of adults who engage in no leisure-time physical activity
  • States with no data available: New Jersey

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About the author

Nicolette Star Maggiolo, RD, LDN
I'm a Registered Dietitian-Nutritionist with education from Boston University and clinical training from both Brigham & Women's Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. I specialize in helping the military and non-military individuals embrace nutrition as a partner in both their mental and physical health.

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