The Times West Virginian

April 7, 2013

How can West Virginia improve well-being?

Times West Virginian

— Have you every been miserable? I mean really miserable?

A job that just doesn’t suit you? In a one-sided relationship? Some sort of physical ailment that has taken the pep out of your step? A toothache?

There’s health, which looks at the body as a system, from the head to toe, finding and preventing diseases, treating sickness and conditions. But then there’s well-being, which takes into account where you feel you are in life, your emotion health, the place where you work, your physical health, the behaviors that are beneficial or detrimental to our health, and access to your basic health and nutrition needs.

So where would you rank yourself for well-being? On a scale of 100?

If you lived in the Charleston Metropolitan Area, about 60.8. That wold be a failing grade in any class. It’s also the lowest score of any metropolitan area nationwide in the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index based on answers to questions from the criteria above. And if you just want to shrug it off as a “bad day” for the responders in Charleston, understand that this is information being tracked since 2008. Tracked daily, in fact.

With its 60.8 rating, Charleston knocked the Huntington-Ashland, Ky., Area out of the bottom ranking nationwide. But that West Virginia metropolitan area still ranks rather low, second from the bottom, with a score of 61.2. So two of West Virginia’s largest cities are, according to the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, the two lowest scoring areas for overall well-being.

So how does that reflect for the state as a whole. How well are we? How fit are we, emotionally, mentally and physically? And better yet, how do we fix it? We could sit and bemoan our circumstances and blame a variety of of reasons why we don’t rank as high as Lincoln, Neb., which scored highest on the index with a 72.8 percent rating. Or we could roll up our sleeves and figure out how to focus on wellness for the body and soul.

And how is that possible? We asked our readers to weigh in on he question in our online poll, which can be found each week at Last week we asked what should be a priority in our battle to get “well.” And here’s what you had to say:

• Put more funds into anti-tobacco campaigns — 5.45 percent.

• A focus on obesity and diabetes prevention — 21.82 percent.

• More and better access to health care for all citizens — 25.45 percent.

• Education is key — start in the school systems with nutrition, physical education and health — 47.27 percent.

Well, as they say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. And it’s much cheaper, too, to start at such a young age establishing the kind of habits a person can take through their lives. As my mother used to always say, begin as you mean to go on. And it’s true with almost every every situation, especially teaching children the value of good health, hygiene, nutrition and exercise.

This week, let’s talk about education again — teaching handwriting and cursive. With a nationwide movement toward more keyboarding lessons in place of cursive instruction, where do you stand on the issue?

Log on. Email me or respond online.

Misty Poe