NJ residents physically healthy but lag in purpose, motivation
New Jersey residents don't fare so well on a new well-being index, but at least we have plenty of company.
In the annual Gallup-Sharecare survey released Tuesday, not one state improved their score that measures how residents feel about and experience their daily lives. Twenty-one states, including New Jersey, saw their index scores drop, creating the largest nationwide year-over-year decline in the 10-year history of the survey.
With a score of 61.5 out of 100 — down from 62.5 a year prior — New Jersey's well-being ranked 28th among the states. The study was broken down into five key elements of well-being: purpose, social, financial, community and physical.
New Jersey's best showing came in the category of physical well-being. We ranked 11th nationwide, despite one of the lowest percentages (41 percent) of adults who exercise 30-plus minutes per day, three days per week. At 14 percent, the Garden State boasted the fourth-best smoking rate among adults.
According to Dan Witters, research director for the index, the category of purpose well-being "tosses sand in New Jersey's gears." We ranked 34th in the nation.
"If you're in the back of the pack, bottom third, in purpose well-being, that makes it hard for you to break loose and get up higher in the rankings," Witters said.
The category analyzes whether residents enjoy what they do each day and are motivated to achieve their goals.
In the survey, 55 percent of New Jersey adults said they have a leader in their life that makes them enthusiastic about the future. Only eight states saw a lower percentage.
The fourth-worst showing in the nation, 50 percent of New Jerseyans said they've reached most of their personal goals in the last 12 months.
Gallup-Shareways spoke with nearly 4,000 New Jersey adults.
Thirty-four percent said they experience "significant daily worry" — the fifth-worst percentage countrywide.
The Garden State ranked 22nd among the states in the social category, 27th in financial, and 35th in community.
Noting that oral health has a surprisingly strong link to well-being, Witters said New Jersey outperformed the nation for the percentage of adults who go to the dentist every 12 months. Compared to 65 percent on a national level, three-quarters of New Jersey adults visit the dentist yearly.
"People who get to the dentist frequently are just more likely to evaluate their lives higher in general," Witters said. "It's a good psychological trigger — you take care of your teeth, you're taking care of your life."
Down from 62.1 the year prior, the national well-being index score was 61.5 in 2017. South Dakota posted the highest score; West Viriginia posted the lowest.
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Contact reporter Dino Flammia at firstname.lastname@example.org.