Unfitter America

The latest update to Gallup-Healthways' State of American Well-Being report is a rallying cry to take more exercise
Photo Credit: LocalFitness. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

Last month, we unveiled The Active Times'  2014 ranking of America's fittest cities. One of our data sources for that was the Gallup-Healthways State of American Well-Being report. This covers a broader range of healthcare and economic measures than fitness alone. Its latest update takes a detailed look at wellness in states and cities across the U.S.

What caught our eye at The Active Times is that states that consistently rank highly for well-being tend to provide their residents with safe places to exercise. Gallup-Healthways gives a tip of the hat to Minnesota and Colorado in that regard. Along with North Dakota and Nebraska they comprise the top four states for the physical health of their residents. Along with Hawaii, Minnesota and Colorado are also the only states to make the top 10 overall in all six years the rankings have been compiled.

We, too, salute the pair, because they are bucking the national trend. The Gallup-Healthways index shows an overall fall in its national well-being score to 66.2 in 2013 from 66.7 in 2012. Declines in Americans' physical health and healthy behaviors were two of the main contributors. 

The sub-index of physical health hit its lowest point in the past two years. The report points a thick, flabby finger at rising rates of obesity, which, it says, "after easing somewhat, resumed at alarming rates in 2013." That is being accompanied by national decreases in rates of healthy eating and exercise.

The report recommends ways that communities can create a public environment where physical activity is easy and safe. These include promoting bike lanes, improving sidewalks and introducing walking school buses — a group of children walking to school with one or more adults along a structured route with meeting points and a timetable. For individuals, we'd add to that anything legal, decent and honest that gets you moving for at least half an hour a day.

Be active. Live well, longer.

Gallup-Healthway's 2013 ranking of the top 10 states for well-being:

  1. North Dakota
  2. South Dakota
  3. Nebraska
  4. Minnesota
  5. Montana
  6. Vermont
  7. Colorado
  8. Hawaii
  9. Washington
  10. Iowa

Its top ranking cities are

  1. Provo-Orem, UT
  2. Boulder, CO
  3. Fort Collins-Loveland, CO
  4. Honolulu, HI
  5. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA
  6. Ann Arbor, MI
  7. Naples-Marco Island, FL
  8. San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles, CA
  9. San Fransico-Oakland-Fremont, CA
  10. Lincoln, NE

The State of American Well-Being report, individual state reports, and the Well-Being Index are available for download from Gallup-Healthways.

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