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By Amir Khan, Everyday Health
When it comes to the nation's well-being, North Dakota can't be beat, according to a new Gallup poll. The state came out on top in this latest survey, narrowly beating out its neighbor to the south and dethroning Hawaii after four years.
Gallup interviewed more than 178,000 people across all 50 states about their life-evaluation, which is how they score well-being, emotional health, work environment, physical health, healthy behaviors, and access to basic necessities. Responses were translated to an index calculated between 0 and 100, where 100 represents ideal well-being. North Dakota scored a 70.4, which Gallup attributed to its strong scores in the areas of physical health and work environment, while West Virginia scored a 61.4 - its fifth straight year in the bottom spot.
"These results are likely related to the fact that agriculture is a major presence in North Dakota," said Dan Ehlke, PhD, assistant professor of health policy and management at SUNY Downstate in New York City. "This would tend to translate into greater physical activity and increased time spent outdoors, both of which can have positive effects on health."
"Less clear is the effect of the recent natural gas boom," Dr. Ehlke added. "Though it has had a range of deleterious effects, it has resulted in greater economic security for some."
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Here are the top and bottom states:
Top 10 States by Well-Being
North Dakota - 70.4
South Dakota - 70.0
Nebraska - 69.7
Minnesota - 69.7
Montana - 69.3
Vermont - 69.1
Colorado - 68.9
Hawaii - 68.4
Washington - 68.4
Iowa - 68.2
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Bottom 10 States by Well-Being
West Virginia - 61.4
Kentucky - 63.0
Mississippi - 63.7
Alabama - 64.1
Ohio - 64.2
Arkansas - 64.3
Tennessee - 64.3
Missouri - 64.5
Oklahoma - 64.7
Louisiana - 64.9
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Regardless of the state you live in, there are steps you can take to improve your well-being. Here are three things you can do right now:
Meditate. Relieving anxiety and depression is one of the many benefits of meditation. Even a few minutes of deep breathing can make a big difference in how you approach your day.
Exercise. A trip to the gym not only boosts your physical health, it also helps to improve your mental health and reduce stress.
Reward Yourself. Whether you spend an afternoon in your favorite store, eat a piece of dark chocolate or sleep in on a Saturday, giving yourself a treat every now and then is important. Treats help to boost your self-esteem and have you feeling good about yourself in no time.