Is your region the fittest in the country? Or -- ouch -- the least fit?

Who doesn't want to be a superlative now and then? And being able to say you live in the "most fit" region of the United States (assuming you contribute to the ranking) can't be all bad.

Who doesn't want to be a superlative now and then? And being able to say you live in the "most fit" region of the United States (assuming you contribute to the ranking) can't be all bad.

According to statistics issued by the National Sporting Goods Association, the Mountain States (Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah and Nevada) outdid the Pacific States by a significant amount in their participation in fitness-oriented activities. The Pacific states -- California, Washington and Oregon -- include the ones that seem to have an image, deserved or not, of lithe bodies playing volleyball on beaches and the birthplace of all things healthy and fit. (Go, Arnold!)

In fact, the New England states tied with Pacific for second place. Those states include Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont.

To come up with these rankings, the NSGA developed indices this year from its 2006 Sports Participation Surveys. For this region-by-region comparison, the six fitness activities included were aerobic exercising, exercising with equipment, exercise walking, running/jogging, weightlifting and workout at club. The activities are not defined and a respondent simply uses his or her judgment to decide what they do and what category he or she thinks it falls under, the NSGA said. One person may be counted more than once if they say they do more than one of the six. However, the population of a region and what percent of the U.S. population it represents is calculated into the percentage to account for differences in numbers.

As perhaps suspected, the least fit regions in the United States were the West South Central states and the East South Central states. Respectively, they include Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas, with east encompassing Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama and Mississippi. The regions were only one point apart on the index.

But retailers and manufacturers can do more with this data than just find it entertaining, according to Tom Doyle, vice president of information and research. They can in fact use it to develop marketing and promotional materials that better target regional demographics.

"There is both a fun and a serious aspect to the index," Doyle explained. "On the fun side, it provides bragging rights. The Mountain Man can tell the Texan to shape up. More seriously, the index may indicate broader regional differences that need to be recognized in implementing fitness awareness programs.

"For manufacturers, regional differences should also be taken into consideration in establish sales goals," he continued. "For retailers, multi-regional retailers may wish to deliver slightly different advertising messages based on the receptivity of regional audiences."

For more information on this, contact the NSGA at 847-296-6742, ext. 108, or email



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