Douglas County likes to move
Douglas County was recently named number one as the most physically active county in the nation in the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) annual PLACES report. The report was released in 2023, used data from 2021, and was examined by Northwell Health, the largest health care system in the state of New York.
The PLACES report survey asked adults the amount of time they did leisure exercise in a month’s time. Any level of physical activity was included, including running, golf, gardening and more.
“The dataset includes estimates for 36 measures: 13 for health outcomes, nine for preventive services use, four for chronic disease-related health risk behaviors, seven for disability and three for health status,” states the PLACES page on the CDC website.
The survey results show some interesting trends: people in the West are more physically active than other regions of the country, and income is a compelling factor in an individual’s access to and ability to make more time for leisure exercise.
Other Colorado counties rounded out half of the top 25, including Boulder, Broomfield, and Pitkin counties. Routt was number seven and Jefferson County number nine. Summit (15), Gunnison (16), Elbert (20), Larimer (21), Park (23) and Eagle (25) were the other within the top 25.
Like many Western states, Colorado has historically highly valued public open spaces, trails and parks, providing numerous opportunities for residents to get exercise outside. Douglas County has 16 trail or open space areas and more than 60 miles of trails. Many more trail miles and activity resources, such as parks, fields and courts are within city and state park boundaries.
The benefits of regular physical activity are well touted for both physical and mental health. The benefits are wide ranging including some level of relief for anxiety, depression, psychological distress, and side effects from medications. Physical activity also boosts cognitive function and working memory capacity and is a critical piece for mitigation of aging-related cognitive and physical decline.
Many Castle Pines residents exemplify the active lifestyle Colorado is known for. After moving from other places around the country, some are surprised by the outdoor physically active culture they find here.
The Canyons resident Laura Bailey moved from Virginia and noticed getting outside is just more prevalent in Colorado. The Burns family came from California and settled in The Village at Castle Pines. Mindy Burns noted, “We realized what a huge hiking culture there is here and quickly got sucked into it.”
The Arnold family, Forrest Park residents, keep active by cycling, hiking, skiing and working out at Orange Theory. They know they feel better “when we move our bodies and get fresh air,” mom Jeanine stated.
Mandy Short from The Village at Castle Pines understands the value and impact physical activity has on mental health. She enjoys long walks with the family dog, playing tennis, pickle ball and skiing.
The options for physical activity are endless. It is rare to not see locals walking the dog, running or cycling around Castle Pines and the rest of the county. The designation of most physically active county is no surprise to those who live here.
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Article and photos by Celeste McNeil