Portlanders enjoy exercising, healthful eats according to a recent survey by the Portland Clinic

COURTESY: THE PORTLAND CLINIC - Portland is known for its bicycle culture, but that's just one aspect of living a healthy life here in the Rose City.Perhaps it’s the abundance of walking trails in Portland. Or perhaps Portlanders are less likely, than their peers in other parts of the country, to live on fatty foods and sweet treats. Whatever the reason, a study by The Portland Clinic paints a rosy picture of Portland’s eating and exercise habits.

Titled “Portland Healthy Habits: 2016,” the report reveals that about 73 percent of Portland-area residents surveyed exercise regularly, while only about 56 percent of Americans nationwide work out on a consistent basis.

The idea behind the study, conducted by Riley Research, was to determine how area residents approach their health and wellness and which healthy lifestyle choices are most popular. The Portland Clinic compared results of the survey to national numbers and studies. For the survey, about 400 people were interviewed (online) in a four-county area earlier this year.

“We were inspired to do this survey because we wanted to confirm some of our feelings and test some of our assumptions on how Portlanders participate and are engaged in their own health,” Dick Clark, CEO of The Portland Clinic, said. “We felt like this would create a foundation for us to serve our patients better, and also, share the results with some of our partners in the community.”

The study shows Portlanders place greater emphasis on nutrition and exercise than folks in other cities.

COURTESY: THE PORTLAND CLINIC  - Hiking is just one of the activities Portlanders enjoy as part of a healthy lifestyle.In addition to revealing that 73 percent of Portland-area residents exercise regularly, the study also showed that 36 percent of respondents said that general exercise is their primary method of staying in shape. Examples of general exercise would include a trip to the gym. Walking came in second with 27 percent.

“Portlanders are engaged in their health,” Clark said. “They want to take advantage of the many attributes of this great area of the nation. For example, we have an abundant amount of outdoor activities available and people really can find something for any of their desires, whether it be skiing during the winter, in the mountains, or beach combing at the Oregon Coast.”

Healthful eating habits are revealed in the study. According to The Portland Clinic, “Aligning with national averages, 54 percent of respondents confirm that they monitor their nutrition as a means of improving their physical and/or mental health.” Numbers in the study show about half of survey respondents dine on vegetables and fruit every day; as many as nine out of 10 enjoy produce several times a week.

“We have a wonderful culinary legacy here,” Clark said. “People are able to get a variety of healthy food choices, whether that be at roadside fruit, berry or vegetable stands (or Farmer’s Markets) or some of the wonderful restaurants that we have in this area.”

A key to a healthy community, Clark said, is the food choices people make. He said healthy food choices help contribute to kids being more successful at school. Other benefits include keeping health care costs down.

“It’s really like an ecosystem, where food and exercise contribute to the overall healthy Portland economy,” Clark said.

COURTESY: THE PORTLAND CLINIC - Portland residents enjoy a healthy lifestyle.The study also shows many Portlanders favor a vegan or vegetarian diet, noting about 6 percent of Portlanders follow a plant-based diet, compared with about 4 percent throughout the United States.

“We are extremely accommodating, in the Portland area, with whatever the food tastes are of people,” Clark said. “People are able to get a variety of choices (in part because of our proximity to farms) and not necessarily have to compromise on something that doesn’t meet their lifestyle. I just think that, once again, we’ve built this, kind of, food and health infrastructure that is able to cater to anyone’s taste.”

Glancing at the 2016 survey results, Clark gets a good feeling about our area, saying, “The Portland community is engaged with their health. They want to be healthy.”


Portland’s reputation as a caffeine center may be somewhat overblown.

Just under half of survey respondents drink some form of caffeinated beverage each day. In contrast, about two-thirds of all Americans grab a cup of Joe to start their day.

Furthermore, Portlanders are not just better about adding in leafy greens, they also have a higher tendency to avoid “junk food.” While 80 percent of Americans dine on fast food at least once a month, only about 60 percent of Portlanders visit these restaurants in a 30-day period.

Residents of the Rose City are also unlikely to enjoy processed snacks, with only 35 percent eating junk food multiple times a week.

Despite the positive data seen in this survey, other statistics show Portland still has room to grow. Just over half (55 percent) of homes report having at least one family member who lives with a chronic health condition, many of which can be treated and prevented with lifestyle changes. Obesity and arthritis (21 percent) were the most common, followed closely by asthma (16 percent) and diabetes (15 percent). Also, just over one-third of survey participants admit to enjoying processed snacks and fast food at least several times a week.

— The Portland Clinic

Scott Keith is a freelance writer with the Portland Tribune and the Pamplin Media Group. If you have a health tip, or a story idea, contact Scott at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..