Posted on Apr 03, 2023, 4 p.m.
Research has shown time and time again that lifestyle choices influence how long you live, but research also suggests that where you live might also be a factor in your longevity.
Americans born today can expect to die sooner than their parents, with life expectancy declining two years in a row, which is the biggest decrease since 1923. According to the W.H.O., globally, in 2019 America placed a dismal 40th for life expectancy when compared to other countries.
Even with the advanced healthcare system, the average life expectancy of an American is only 78.5 years, which was pretty low. However, within America, there are some states where its residents have a better chance at living longer lives, and it may come as no surprise that this is largely in part due to their healthy lifestyles.
Recently, Life Extension compiled federal data to better determine where the best state are within America for longevity based on reported life expectancy at birth and these eight lifestyle factors: Healthy diet, Healthy weight, Exercise, Proximity to parks, Amount of time spent on outdoor recreation, Stress levels, Social isolation, and Sleep quality.
Key findings according to their research include:
- The best states tend to have scenic outdoor areas and active populations as demonstrated by Hawaii, Vermont, Utah, and Colorado all landing among the top 10 overall.
- Seven of the 10 states with the longest life expectancies also rank in the top 10 for living a healthy lifestyle. D.C. is a notable exception as our nation's capital ranks No. 23 for life expectancy despite having the No. 6 most healthy lifestyle.
- The 10 states with the unhealthiest lifestyles also have the lowest life expectancies and are mainly concentrated in the Southeast.
States ranked high because of long life expectancies, but they also ranked higher if their residents live a healthy lifestyle:
- Minnesota and Vermont (tie)
- New Hampshire
According to the researcher's findings, Hawaii ranked number one as the best state for longevity with a life expectancy at birth of 80.7 years which exceeds all other states and the national average. Hawaii can also boast being among the healthiest lifestyles in America as well, with Minnesota, Vermont, Washington, and New Hampshire rounding off the top 5. Life expectancy alone did not earn the top ranking as over two-thirds of Hawaii’s residents report eating fruits and vegetables every day, 82.5% of the residents report having a park or school within a half mile of their homes, and the state spends 4.8% of the GDP on outdoor recreation, according to data from the CDC.
Washington was found to have the second highest life expectancy but it was bumped down by the tie between both Minnesota and Vermont taking the second position because of the data on lifestyle factors. 83.5% of Vermont residents report exercising regularly and 75.6% report eating fruit and vegetables daily which is a higher rate than in any other state. Additionally, about 70% of Minnesota, Vermont, and Colorado residents report getting sufficient sleep.
Overall Washington wasn’t that far behind landing in third which was largely due to the high life expectancy and the low levels of stress the residents experience, with less than 30% reporting symptoms of anxiety. Washington ranks 6th for healthy lifestyles but life expectancy is only 75.3 years which is below most states.
Meanwhile, in the middle of the pack Montana(14), Alaska(24), and North Carolina(28) residents, in general, have good habits and healthy lifestyles, but they only have average life expectancies. Rounding up the bottom of the overall rankings West Virginia(51), Mississippi(50), Alabama(49), Louisiana(48), and Kentucky(47) residents are more likely to report symptoms of anxiety and they are generally less likely to report exercising regularly or getting adequate sleep.
Social isolation, loneliness, anxiety, sleep, stress, and strong relationships are key factors to well-being and longevity, but they are not the only ones as genetics, access to healthcare and environmental concerns also play roles in life expectancy along with lifestyle decisions.
Higher lifestyle scoring tends to have a higher life expectancy, but healthy habits are not a perfect predictor for longevity. The researchers measured life expectancy at birth versus health behaviors taken over time, so in states where the population is changing its behaviors, it will take time for the life expectancy to catch up. Even still the findings and rankings not only emphasize the benefits of making good choices and maintaining a healthful lifestyle for longevity, but they also serve as a reminder that other factors can play a role too.
As with anything you read on the internet, this article should not be construed as medical advice; please talk to your doctor or primary care provider before changing your wellness routine. This article is not intended to provide a medical diagnosis, recommendation, treatment, or endorsement.
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