The Most Motivated States in the USA

The Most Motivated States in the US

Colorado. Population: 5.5 million, home of the Southern Rocky Mountains and…the most motivated state in the U.S?

Our latest piece of research has shown that Coloradans are the most driven, enthused and overall, most motivated people in America.

But how to describe motivation?

It has a cycle of starting at its peak, descending as time goes on, popping up when you least need it and dipping when you need it the most.

Defined by the Oxford Dictionary as the, “desire or willingness to do something; enthusiasm,” it can often be applied to your commitment to doing something, like exercising more, learning a new hobby or volunteering.

How do you go about finding the most motived states?

You can argue everything we do is motivated by something. We drink water to reduce our thirst; we eat food to satiate our hunger; etc…. But the sort of motivation people often refer to is the process that initiates, guides and maintains goal-oriented behaviors. Achieving this goal often involves persisting through obstacles and maintaining the endurance to keep going, despite any difficulties.

There are three major components to motivation:

  • Activation — the decision to initiate a behavior.
  • Persistence — the continued effort towards a goal.
  • Intensity — the concentration that goes into pursuing a goal.

Based on the three motivation components, we set to measure them through the following categories: Healthy eating by fruit and vegetable consumption, exercise, reduction and increase in obesity, feeling active and productive, number of social associations (such as golf clubs and fitness centers),* hours volunteering and startup density.**

TopicMeasurable ComponentsMotivation Components
Fruit and vegetable consumptionPercentage of state residents who report eating five or more servings of fruits and vegetables four or more days per week.Persistence and intensity.
ExercisePercentage of state residents who report exercising for at least 30 minutes three or more days per week.Persistence and intensity.
Reduction or increase in levels of obesityAverage annual rate of change in obesity prevalence among adults aged 18 years and older.Activation, persistence, and intensity.
Feeling active and productivePercentage of state residents who report having felt active and productive every day in the last seven days.Activation.
Number of social associationsNumber of social associations per 10,000 people.Activation.
Volunteering hoursVolunteering hours per resident.Persistence.
Startup densityStartup density per 1,000 firm populationActivation, persistence, and intensity.

You could argue that these pieces of data don’t individually reveal motivation levels, but when viewed all together the three major components of motivation provide a strong indication of motivation levels in a given state.

Analyzing the data, we ranked the states from 1 – 50, with one being the highest or best.

But how did each state shape-up in the separate categories?


States that Eat the Most Fruit and Vegetables

Data gathered from Gallup revealed that Vermont had the highest percentage of residents who report eating five or more servings of fruits and vegetables, four or more days per week.

Top 5Bottom 5
New Hampshire61.8%Louisiana54.5%
Colorado60.7%North Dakota52.3%

Gallup. (2015). Eat Produce Frequently.


States that Exercise the Most

When it comes to exercise, Hawaii topped the list with 63.2 percent of residents exercising for at least 30 minutes, three or more days per week.

Top 5Bottom 5
Montana60.4%West Virginia46.1%

Source: Exercise Frequently.


States’ Changes in Obesity

From 2012-2016, there were only five states who managed to reduce obesity. Montana was the leader, followed closely by Colorado.

Top 5Bottom 5

Source: Americas Health Rankings. (2015). 2016 Annual Report.


States that Feel Active and Productive

South Dakota’s residents reported feeling the most active and productive every day in the last seven days when they took the survey.

Top 5Bottom 5
South Dakota73.7%Mississippi64.1%
North Dakota71.7%Vermont62.5%
Minnesota71.5%West Virginia59%

Source: Gallup. (2015). Feel Active and Productive.


States that have the Most Social Associations

South Dakota again hit the top spot with 17 social associations per 10,000 people.

Top 5Bottom 5
South Dakota17.0%Hawaii6.6%
North Dakota16.6%California5.8%


Source: County Health Rankings and Roadmaps. (2016). Social Associations.


States that Volunteer the Most

Utah spent the most hours volunteering annually, with an in impressive 80.8 hours, followed second by Idaho at nearly half that amount with 43.5 hours.

Top 5Bottom 5
Alaska40.5%Rhode Island23.1%

Source: Corporation for National & Community Service. (2015). Volunteer House per Resident by States.


States’ Startup Density per 1,000 Firms Population

Nevada featured the highest startup business density with 107.4 per 1,000 firms population.

Top 5Bottom 5
Nevada107.4New Hampshire59.1
Missouri88.3West Virginia51.1

Source: Kauffman .(2016). State Rankings.


What’s interesting is that Colorado never reached number one in any of the categories. They were however in the top ten 71% of the time, demonstrating the importance of viewing motivation using multiple factors.

Perhaps it’s all the outdoor space available in Colorado, or maybe it’s peoples’ attitude that get them going.

Whatever their secret, analyzing the data in such a light provides a fascinating insight into the culture and attitude of the people of the United States.



*Social Associations: Civic organizations, bowling centers, golf clubs, fitness centers, sports organizations, religious organizations, political organizations, labor organizations, business organizations and other professional organizations.

**Startup businesses are defined as firms less than one-year old and employing at least one person besides the owner.



United States Census Bureau. (2017). State Population Totals Tables: 2010-2016.

Oxford Dictionary. Motivation.

Nevid, J. (2013). Psychology: Concepts and applications. Belmont, CA: Wadworth.

Cherry, K. (2016). Motivation: Psychological Factors That Guide Behavior.

Gallup. (2015). Exercise Frequently.

Gallup. (2015). Feel Active and Productive.

Gallup. (2015). Eat Produce Frequently.

County Health Rankings and Roadmaps. (2016). Social Associations.

Corporation for National & Community Service. (2015). Volunteer House per Resident by States.

Americas Health Rankings. (2015). 2016 Annual Report.

Kauffman .(2016). State Rankings.

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