Our latest Freakonomics Radio podcast tried to figure out what is the "best" exercise. Meanwhile, Richard Florida's latest post for The Atlantic Cities blog looks at state-by-state variations in exercise. When it comes to aerobic exercise, the coasts (and Colorado) win:
[P]articipation in aerobic exercise is most prevalent along the West Coast, in the Rocky Mountain states and the northeast, and far less so in the middle and southern portions of the country.
Colorado tops the list among states, with 61.8 percent of adults meeting the standard for aerobic exercise; Oregon is second (61.1 percent), followed by Vermont (59.2 percent), Hawaii (58.5 percent) and California (58.2 percent). On the flip side, the lowest levels of participation in aerobic exercise are found in southern states – Tennessee (39 percent), Mississippi (40 percent), Louisiana (42 percent), Alabama (42.4 percent) and West Virginia (43 percent).
The trends are similar for muscle-strengthening exercise. Florida goes on to report on the various correlates of exercise -- wealth, affluence, etc. Interestingly, fitness participation also closely tracks political and religious divides -- people in red states exercise less, as do people in more religious states.