The United States of Exercise: Keep it up, Vermont

Residents of Vermont hit the slopes, the bike trails or the jogging paths more often than adults in any other state, according to a new survey of national exercise habits, while residents of Delaware are the least likely to sweat to the oldies.

The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index shows more than 60 percent of adults in four states — Vermont, Hawaii, Montana and Alaska — report exercising for at least 30 minutes on three or more of the past seven days. Adults in Colorado, Oregon, Idaho, New Mexico, Nebraska and North Dakota round out the top 10 most exercise-crazy states.

Just 46.5 percent of Delaware adults reported exercising three or more days in the last week. Fewer than 48 percent of residents in West Virginia, Alabama and New Jersey worked out frequently, the poll showed.

Nationally, the percentage of regular exercisers dropped slightly last year, which Gallup attributes to colder and wetter-than-normal weather. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration data show 2013 was the coldest and wettest year since 2009; 2012, on the other hand, had warmer and drier than usual weather.

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Vermonters also get high marks for eating well. The Gallup-Healthways poll showed 67.8 percent of Green Mountineers ate five or more servings of vegetables on four or more days, ahead of every other state. More than six in ten residents of Montana, Washington, Oregon, New Mexico, Colorado and Wyoming ate their leafy greens and veggies regularly, too.

Fewer than 54 percent of residents of Oklahoma, Louisiana and Missouri said they ate their vegetables regularly, representing the bottom of the pack. Blue states tend to be more vegetable-friendly: In 2012, President Obama won six of the 10 states where vegetable consumption is highest (Montana, Wyoming, Arizona and Alaska voted red but ate green). Mitt Romney won seven of the 10 states with the lowest vegetable consumption (Delaware, Iowa and Ohio were the blue standouts).

It’s no wonder that five of the six states that rank highest for both frequent exercise and vegetable consumption — Montana, Colorado, New Mexico, Vermont and Oregon — are also ranked in the bottom one-third of state obesity rates.

Reid Wilson covers national politics and Congress for The Washington Post. He is the author of Read In, The Post’s morning tip sheet on politics.

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Reid Wilson · March 11, 2014

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