Hawaii happy and healthy

A story in The Maui News last week reported that people attaining the age of 65 are most likely to live longer and healthier in Hawaii than any other state.

The Associated Press story noted that 65-year-old Hawaii residents are likely to live another 21 years with 16 of them in good health. The worst state for longevity was Mississippi – 17 more years of life with seven of them in poor health.

The story cited such factors as rates of obesity, smoking, diabetes and heart disease as contributing factors to life expectancy.

But we think there is another factor that was not directly mentioned in last week’s article – the happiness of the citizens of a state.

As we first noted earlier this year, the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index ranked Hawaii’s citizens the happiest in the country in 2012. That index measures such things as emotional health, physical health, healthy behaviors and job satisfaction.

It is interesting to note the correlation between happiness and life expectancy. Hawaii is No. 1 in both – Mississippi is last in life expectancy and 48th in happiness of its citizens.

Last week’s story noted that one could not simply move to Hawaii at age 65 and expect to achieve the state’s average life expectancy. Certainly, unhealthy lifestyle behaviors (and unhappiness) when younger are going to trump moving to Paradise for your golden years.

But if you spend most of your life in Hawaii, at age 65 you can expect a lot more healthy years. And, according to the Well-Being Index, both the pre-retirement and post-retirement years will be happy ones.

* Editorials reflect the opinion of the publisher.