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Most sedentary city in the U.S.? Sorry, Lexington

June 29, 2011|By Marissa Cevallos, HealthKey / For the Booster Shots blog
  • A Men's Health ranking of 100 U.S. cities declares Lexington, Ky., the most sedentary. Seattle is the most active.
A Men's Health ranking of 100 U.S. cities declares Lexington, Ky.,… (Mark Boster / Los Angeles…)

In terms of sedentary lifestyle, Lexington, Ky., has some explaining to do, or perhaps, some light jogging and yard work. It topped the online list of “least active” cities by Men’s Health. The city joins Indianapolis; Jackson, Miss.; and Charleston, W.Va., as the nation’s top couch potato cities.

In the ranking of 100 U.S. cities, the most active one was Seattle, followed by San Francisco and Oakland. Washington was fourth, with Western cities Salt Lake City and Reno right behind. See the full list.

Seem about right? The Men’s Health team assessed cities’ activity levels using government and market data, taking into account: where and how often people exercise, whether they'd had any physical activity in the last month, the percentage of households that watch more than 15 hours of cable TV a week (and buy more than 11 video games each year), and rates of death from deep-vein thrombosis. The CDC has a county-by-county map of obesity, diabetes, and physical inactivity.

To fight the sedentary lifestyle, Men’s Health suggests taking the stairs (and even livening up the stairwell with upbeat music). Or putting a mini-exercise bike under your office desk.

After all, researchers have been piping up that we shouldn’t think of sedentary as the lack of a workout — it should be a different condition entirely in which muscles aren’t active for long periods of time. And this lack of movement has been linked to health problems, including early death.

So a veteran couch potato, or desk-bound office worker, need not attempt marathon training or even light running right away to cut down on sedentary time. Women’s Health magazine suggests a few changes during the day, including standing at your desk instead of sitting, pacing while talking on the cellphone, and walking to coworkers’ desks instead of emailing them.

Especially if you live in Lexington.

healthkey@tribune.com

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