LIHUE — As someone who recently moved to Kauai from Wisconsin, Puhi resident Isaac Hamrick says there is a lot to love and appreciate about life in Hawaii.
“It’s super mellow,” Hamrick said recently at Kukui Grove Center. “It’s almost like it’s just a wave that keeps going and there’s no disruptions in it; like, if anything happens, it would just go right back to the same thing. And, the weather’s always the same.”
For Hamrick and a few other residents, it came as no surprise that Hawaii was recognized as one of the best in the nation for overall well-being, according to a joint nationwide survey published by Gallup and Healthways last week.
“Hawaii is just such a great place to live,” Lihue resident Lance Kerwin said while playing with his four children at Kalapaki Beach in Nawiliwili. “It’s not often that we get to come to the beach to relax because of work, but when we do, it’s a great time.”
In 2014, Hawaii was ranked second in the nation for overall well-being behind Alaska, which took the top spot for the first time.
The nationwide results were based on phone interviews conducted between January and December 2014 with a random sample of 176,702 adults who were at least 18 years old and lived in the 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.
Daniel Sagucio, Hanapepe resident, said Hawaii should have been No. 1.
“I haven’t visited very many places but in all the places I have been, I can say that this is where I can feel most happy,” he said.
“I absolutely love it here. Being able to live in paradise, as most people would claim, is mind-blowing, especially because hundreds, thousands, millions of people visit Hawaii just to experience the life that I get to experience every day.”
“There are a lot of people who visit here and wish they could live here,” Sagucio added.
Hawaii is no stranger to being ahead of the pack in Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index when it comes to overall well-being, based on five specific categories: social, financial, community and physical.
In fact, Hawaii and Colorado are the only two states to be in the top 10 for well-being every year since Gallup, a global research-based management consulting company known for its public opinion poll, and Healthways, a nationwide well-being improvement company, started tracking data in 2008.
So what makes Hawaii stand out from the other 50 states?
The answer, Gallup researchers say, is a mix of key factors.
Dan Witters, research director of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, said Hawaii “is consistently one of the lowest obesity states in the U.S.” In fact, he said, the state’s 19 percent obesity rate was the lowest in the nation.
“It has low levels of high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes, all chronic conditions associated with obesity,” Witters said.
Hawaii residents, he said, also “enjoy the lowest rate of clinical diagnosis of depression at any point in their lifetimes in the U.S. at 11 percent, and has the third lowest rate of significant daily stress.”
Hawaii residents are also one of the most physically fit, since nearly 61 percent of all people who responded to the yearlong poll reported that they exercise for at least 30 minutes at least three days per week. This ranks Hawaii second in the nation when it comes to exercise.
“Residents of the state take good care of themselves physically and emotionally, and have done so since measurement began in 2008,” Witters said. “Other strengths for the state include high levels of feeling safe and secure in the community (84 percent agree — 6th best nationally) and exhibiting good dentistry habits (4th best in the U.S. with 72 percent who have been to the dentist in the last 12 months).”
Tehani Pavao of Lihue said everyone wants to live here, and that’s no surprise.
“Everyone’s nice; they got the aloha spirit,” Pavao said. “It’s all country nice and green, we’ve got beaches, it’s not busy here.”
Another Lihue resident, Mark Espritu, pointed out that there’s a lot of things to do in Hawaii.
“I’ve lived here all my life and there’s a lot of things you can do here without spending a lot of money,” he said.
Andy McNichols said he’s happy here.
“I don’t want to move anywhere else,” he said.