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The Well-Being Index leading the way to better living

Make healthy living a priority.
Make healthy living a priority.

So, how are you doing? Is life good? Are you satisfied with your overall health, social life, and sense of security? Such are the questions the folks at Gallup and Healthways asked 531,630 adults, 18 and older, in 189 metropolitan areas across the country, for the 2013 Well-Being Index.

Specifically, it addressed these six domains:

  • “Life Evaluation: Present life situation and anticipated life situation
  • Emotional Health: Daily feelings and mental state
  • Work Environment: Job satisfaction and workplace interactions
  • Physical Health: Physical ability to life a full life
  • Healthy Behavior: Engaging in behaviors that affect physical health
  • Basic Access: Feeling safe, satisfied, and optimistic within a community”

And the conclusions? Hurray if you happen to reside in top-spot Provo-Orem, Utah. Those in Boulder, Colorado; Fort Collins, Colorado; Honolulu, Hawaii; and San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, California fared well, too. These five bested all the rest on the Well-Being Index.

On the flip side, though, are the five communities that rounded out the bottom of the list. Coming in very last—and for the fourth time—was Huntingdon-Ashland, West Virginia-Kentucky-Ohio. Doing only slightly better were Charleston, West Virginia; Redding, California; Spartanburg, South Carolina; and Hickory-Lenoir-Morganton, North Carolina.

The purpose of all this, of course, is not to shame but to motivate communities and individuals alike to improve rather than just maintain their status quo. Indeed, says Patrick Bogart, director of Gallup’s client services, “Our goal is to get leaders thinking about how they can enhance well-being.” That's certainly the case with last place Huntingdon-Ashland which is taking such steps as upping its number of farmers’ markets, promoting healthy eating thanks to the likes of Chef Jamie Oliver, and hosting numerous 5K races.

The Index should also serve as a personal wake-up call, prompting each of us to find balance in our social and working lives, while also taking charge of our weight, stress, blood pressure, cholesterol levels, exercise, finances, safety, and so on.

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