A recently released obesity study ranks Nevada County as one of the top 10 most active counties for men in the nation.
The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington listed Nevada County as the sixth most active county for men in its study, which in 2011 analyzed the impacts of regular exercise as a means of combating the proliferation of obesity in the United States.
“Around the country, you can see huge increases in the percentage of people becoming physically active, which research tells us is certain to have health benefits,” said IHME Director Dr. Christopher Murray.
“If communities in the U.S. can replicate this success and tackle the ongoing obesity impact, it will see more substantial health gains.”
The study states that approximately 71.9 percent of Nevada County’s male population participates in at least 150 total minutes of moderate activity per week or 75 minutes of vigorous activity.
Duane Strawser, a member of the Nevada City Council and owner of Tour of Nevada City Bicycle Shop, said he was both surprised and pleased by the high ranking.
“This county has hundreds of miles of trails that are easily accessible — some are accessible without driving,” Strawser said.
“We’re still number three in the entire nation for the quality and quantity of off-road bike trails.”
However, outdoor recreation opportunities are not limited to cycling enthusiasts, as the easily accessible Yuba River provides miles of scenic hikes for varying degrees of difficulty, Strawser said.
The multiplicity of water bodies in Nevada County also affords kayakers, stand-up paddleboarders and swimmers several options.
While much of the nation combats seasonal affected disorder and cabin fever during the winter months, inhabitants of western Nevada County can shoot up Interstate 80 and have a full and diverse suite of winter recreation options at hand.
Furthermore, plenty of low-elevation trails are well below the snow line and are accessible year-round.
The high ranking in the newly published study bodes well for the general health outlook of men in Nevada County, but it could also pay dividends for the economic prospects of the area, Strawser said.
“We have some of the best recreational options in the nation, but other locations with similar profiles market twice as well,” he said.
Music and arts is part of the attractive package Nevada County can offer to prospective visitors, yet outdoor recreation and ecotourism are two elements that have been consistently devalued in tourism enhancement efforts of the past, Strawser said.
The problem on one hand is funding, Strawser said, but on the other hand prioritizing the promotion of the trove of trails, waterways, spectacular mountain nooks and outdoor playgrounds would put more heads on beds and infuse area businesses with cash from outside the region.
The results published by the IHME at the University of Washington were published in the peer-reviewed journal Population Health Metrics.
While Nevada County ranked high on the list tracking the prevalence of weekly exercise for men, the percentage of active women in the county (62 percent) did not qualify for the top 10.
However, the activity rate for the female population is 12 percentage points higher than the California average rate and 16 percentage points higher than the national average.
The study listed Teton County in Wyoming as the most active county for men, with 77.5 percent of men reaching the necessary active health metrics.
The least active county was listed as Owsley County in Kentucky, where only 33.1 percent of the male population was listed as active.
For women, the most active county in the nation was Routt County in Colorado (74.7 percent) with Marin County in the Bay Area a close second (74.2 percent).
The county featuring the least active female population is Issaquena County in Mississippi (28.4 percent).
The rise in physical activity levels will have a positive health impact on Americans by reducing death and chronic disability from cardiovascular diseases and diabetes, according to a news release published by IHME.
But the trend has had a negligible impact on stopping the rising tide of obesity.
As physical activity increased between 2001 and 2009, so did the percentage of the population considered obese, the release states.
Obesity and risk factors from poor diets, smoking and high blood pressure all are causing a drag on U.S. life expectancies, which increased slowly compared to the country’s economic peers between 1985 and 2010.
To contact Staff Writer Matthew Renda, email firstname.lastname@example.org or 530-477-4239.