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Colorado ranks fourth healthiest in the U.S.

Residents’ habits boost state’s rank
Lisa Servais, owner of Zen Fitness, works out in Memorial Park in 2021. With 73.8% of adults in Colorado living within 0.5 miles of a park, the state was recently ranked as the fourth-healthiest jurisdiction in the U.S. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)

Colorado is the fourth-healthiest jurisdiction in the U.S. and has the lowest obesity level in the country, according to a new study that ranks all U.S. states and the District of Columbia against 13 contributing factors.

The Healthiest States Index, published by fitness advice platform BarBend, uses data from the U.S. Census and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, published between 2015 and 2022, for U.S. residents age 18 and over. It ranks 51 U.S. jurisdictions based on three main pillars: lifestyle behavior, accounting for 55% of the ranking; health status (25%); and available fitness infrastructure (20%).

In Colorado, 58.7% of the adult population is aerobically active for the recommended minimum of 150 minutes per week. As for those who work out to strengthen their muscles at least twice a week, 35.5% of adults living in Colorado do so.

On average, 50.3% of all adult U.S. residents meet their minimum 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity per week, 75 minutes of vigorous intensity aerobic activity or an equivalent combination. Meanwhile, 30.5% of them work out to build muscle at least twice a week.

Only 13.5% of adults in Colorado eat the recommended amount of fruit every day, compared with 12.2% across the country. As for vegetables, while only 9.3% of all U.S. residents age 18 and over consume their daily recommended intake, 11.6% in Colorado do so.

In Colorado, 24.2% of adults are obese, while 31.9% of adults in the U.S. are considered obese, measured in terms of a Body Mass Index of 30 or more. About 14.5% of adults in Colorado smoke, compared with the U.S. average of 16.6%, and 19.8% of Colorado residents binge drink, while the national median stands at 17.4%.

CDC data from March 2021 indicates that 66.1% of Colorado residents have an excellent or a very good health status, while about 7.7% are classed as being in a poor health state. For comparison, the national average for those with an excellent or a very good health status is 63.68%, whereas those with a poor health status average to 2.69% across all states.

The fitness infrastructure in Colorado is made up of 872 fitness and recreational sports centers, meaning that there are 19.13 fitness establishments per 100,000 adults. The national mean average stands at 11.89, with only nine states falling below this.

Researchers at BarBend also looked at how many adults have at least one park nearby. The study found that 73.8% of adults in Colorado can get to a park within 0.5 miles, compared with other states, where the average stands at 46.4%.

“In places where the natural infrastructure is in place for as little as a walk in the nearby park every week, adopting a healthier lifestyle can become much easier,” said a spokesperson for BarBend. “Overall, low fruit and vegetable intake is a problem for all states, which indicates that there is room for improvement policy-wise at national level. Colorado came in at No. 4 largely as a result of residents' habits.”

Adults in Mississippi, Kentucky and West Virginia are the unhealthiest U.S. residents. They consume some of the lowest quantities of fruits and vegetables, are among the heaviest smokers in the country, and only 1 in 4 of them work out twice a week. Heavy drinking is not an issue in the three states, but chronic disease is, where they rank among the country's top 10 worst states on record.

Following the District of Columbia, the nation’s healthiest jurisdiction, in order are Utah, New Jersey, Colorado, California, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Washington, Maryland, Vermont, Oregon, Hawaii, Alaska, New York, New Hampshire, Arizona, Nevada, Rhode Island, Idaho, Minnesota, Florida, Illinois, New Mexico, Wyoming, Maine, Montana, Virginia, Delaware, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Texas, Nebraska, Georgia, North Carolina, North Dakota, Kansas, Michigan, Indiana, Tennessee, Ohio, Missouri, Iowa, South Carolina, South Dakota, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, Kentucky and West Virginia.

More information on BarBend at https://barbend.com/