Report ranks US states with the longest life expectancy: here's where your state falls

With life expectancy declining in the U.S. for the first time in a century, a new report suggests where you live may also play a role in how long you live.

The study, done by researchers at Life Extension Magazine, largely concludes what we already know: that regular exercise, healthy diet, low stress levels, adequate sleep, spending time outdoors and having strong social relationships all contribute to a longer life. But it’s not as "clear-cut" as you may think, researchers said. Other factors — genetics, environment and access to health care — also play a role.

States with the most active populations, healthiest lifestyles and scenic outdoors generally landed near the top of the life expectancy list. Conversely, the 10 states with the lowest life expectancies are also considered the unhealthiest states in the U.S. They’re mostly found in the Southeast, researchers said. 


From a hiking trail overlooking Hanauma Bay with Koko Head in the background Jessica Linster, 24, of Kahala, stretches after morning yoga in Hawaii. (Photo by Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

The "notable" exception is Washington, D.C., where residents are ranked No. 6 for the healthiest lifestyle, but No. 23 for life expectancy. Researchers attribute the exception to racial disparities and high numbers of heart disease, cancer and homicide.

Globally, the United States doesn't even break the top 20 for countries with the highest life expectancies. According to the World Health Organization, the U.S. is ranked 40th, behind countries like Kuwait, Colombia, Estonia and Turkey. 

How researchers ranked states


A bucket of KFC Extra Crispy fried chicken(Photo Illustration by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

The report’s authors looked at eight key metrics to rank states for longevity, meaning the states aren't ranked solely on their life expectancy numbers: 

  • Longevity: Life expectancy at birth, 2020 (CDC)
  • Exercise: Share of adults who say they exercise, 2021 (CDC)
  • Healthy diet: Average of the shares of adults who say they eat fruit and vegetables at least once per day, 2021 (CDC)
  • Healthy weight: Share of adults at a healthy weight, 2021 (CDC)
  • Park proximity: Share of the population living within a half-mile of a park or school, 2020 (CDC)
  • Outdoor recreation spending: Share of state gross domestic product for outdoor recreation, 2021 (BEA)
  • Sleep quality: Share of adults with insufficient sleep time, pegged at less than seven hours per night, 2020 (CDC)
  • Stress: Share of adults with anxiety symptoms, Feb. 2023 (CDC)
  • Social isolation: Share of households with only one person, 2021 (Census)

Best states for longevity

Here’s how the states and D.C. ranked for longevity, according to Life Extension Magazine: 

  1. Hawaii: 80.7 years
  2. Minnesota: 79.1 years
  3. Vermont: 78.8 years
  4. Washington: 79.2 years
  5. New Hampshire: 79 years
  6. Utah: 78.6 years
  7. Colorado: 78.3 years
  8. Massachusetts: 79 years
  9. California: 79 years
  10. Oregon: 78.8 years
  11. Idaho: 78.4 years
  12. Wisconsin: 77.7 years
  13. Rhode Island: 78.2 years
  14. Montana: 76.8 years
  15. Connecticut: 78.4 years
  16. New Jersey: 77.5 years
  17. Maine: 77.8 years
  18. New York: 77.7 years
  19. Florida: 77.5 years
  20. Maryland: 76.8 years
  21. Illinois: 76.8 years
  22. Nebraska: 77.7 years
  23. DC: 75.3 years
  24. Alaska: 76.6 years
  25. Virginia: 77.6 years
  26. South Dakota: 76.7 years
  27. Iowa: 77.5 years
  28. North Carolina: 76.1 years
  29. Delaware: 76.7 years
  30. Wyoming: 76.3 years
  31. Pennsylvania: 76.8 years
  32. North Dakota 76.9 years
  33. Arizona: 76.3 years
  34. Kansas: 76.4 years
  35. Michigan: 76 years
  36. Nevada: 76.3 years
  37. Texas: 76.5 years
  38. Georgia: 75.6 years
  39. New Mexico: 74.5 years
  40. Indiana: 75 years
  41. Ohio: 75.3 years
  42. Missouri: 75.1 years
  43. South Carolina: 74.8 years
  44. Tennessee: 73.8 years
  45. Arkansas: 73.8 years
  46. Oklahoma: 74.1 years
  47. Kentucky: 73.5 years
  48. Louisiana: 73.1 years
  49. Alabama: 73.2 years
  50. Mississippi: 71.9 years
  51. West Virginia: 72.8 years

In Vermont, more than 83% of residents exercise regularly and more than 75% of them eat fruits and vegetables daily, researchers said. Nearly 70% of adults in Vermont, Minnesota and Colorado report adequate sleep, while Hawaii, the No. 1 state, spends 4.8% of its GDP on outdoor recreation.

READ MORE: Most Americans don't know their life expectancy; that's a problem in retirement planning

In the states ranked at the bottom – West Virginia, Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana and Kentucky – adults there are more likely to have anxiety and less likely to exercise and get adequate sleep. 

Tips to live a longer life

Researchers also offered the following advice for improving your life expectancy:


(Photo by TAMI CHAPPELL/AFP via Getty Images)

  • Spend more time outdoors – if you live in a place with less sunlight and longer winters, health experts say adding Vitamin D supplements to your diet can help.
  • Eat healthy foods – Eat more fruits, vegetables and lean proteins. Drink alcohol sparingly.
  • Don’t smoke cigarettes – And if you’re a current smoker, "now is the time to quit."
  • Get enough sleep – Aim for at least seven hours of sleep every night. If you have a hard time falling asleep, consider turning off all screens a half-hour before bed.
  • Reduce your stress levels – Stress can contribute to a number of health problems. If you’ve got a lot of stress in your life, consider meditation, yoga or other measures to lower your stress.