Photo taken August 21, 2013 shows a sunflower field in North Dakota. AFP PHOTO / Karen BLEIER (Photo credit should read KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images)A sunflower field in North Dakota. (credit: KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images)
LANHAM, Md. (CBSDC) — If you want to be happy for the rest of your life, move to the Midwest.
That’s not exactly how the song goes, but the message apparently holds true nonetheless.
North Dakota and South Dakota are the healthiest and happiest places to live in the U.S., according to the 2013 Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index. In fact, each of five highest ranking states are in the Midwest. Maryland and Virginia, meanwhile, are somewhere in the middle of the pack.
More than 178,000 Americans were polled about their satisfaction and perception of six areas: life evaluation, emotional health, work environment, physical health, healthy behaviors, and basic access to necessities such as food and shelter. The rankings are based on data generated by their responses.
Maryland ranked 11th overall in 2012, but dropped to 18th in the latest survey. The state’s ranking was hurt by low scores in the emotional health and healthy behavior categories, where it ranked 36th and 29th, respectively.
Likewise, Virginia also dropped from 14th to 24th overall in 2013. The commonwealth scored particularly poorly in the work environment category, where it placed 38th among all states. Virginia also scored poorly in emotional health, ranking 32nd.
On the far end of the spectrum is West Virginia which ranked finished 50th in health and happiness out of 50 states. The state ranked dead last in every category except work environment, where it placed a modest 14th.
The District of Columbia was not included in the survey.
1. North Dakota
2. South Dakota
50. West Virginia