It’s not just the people or situations in your life that determine how long you will be on Earth. Where you actually live has a lot to do with it, too.

A new study that came out this past week should be very eye-opening for those of you residing in the U.S. who are looking to max out your time here. The study, put together by a team of researchers at the University of Washington, shows that the part of the country you live in could swing your lifespan by up to 21 years.

They looked at life expectancy, as well as the risk of death, from 1980 to 2014 in every stinkin’ county in America. They found out that Americans are living longer, at least overall, and that males born in 2014 can bank on living 77 years while girls born in 2014 can bank on living 81.5 years. That’s a five-year increase from 1980.

The analysts also found that people located in central Colorado tend to live the longest (87 years), while people in a number of North and South Dakota counties, as well as Appalachia and the Mississippi River basin, tended to live the shortest. Some areas in southwestern South Dakota came in last with an expectancy of just 66 years.

“Several counties in South and North Dakota (typically those with Native American reservations) had the lowest life expectancy, and counties along the lower half of the Mississippi and in eastern Kentucky and southwestern West Virginia also had very low life expectancy compared with the rest of the country,” the researchers observed. “In contrast, counties in central Colorado had the highest life expectancies.” 

So what factors cause the difference in life expectancy here? Not surprisingly, economic status has much to do with how long you live. The team also found that “behavioral and metabolic risk factors” also heavily factor into the length of one’s life. Think: smoking and obesity. Additionally, access to healthcare was also a major factor in prolonging (or shortening) the lives of Americans. NBC News reports that the Indian Health Service has been frequently slammed in the past for the lack of adequate healthcare on their reservations, several of which lie in the Dakotas.

If you want to see exactly where your county stands, a map can be found here. Try not to panic. Although honestly, moving to Colorado doesn’t sound like a bad at all…

Photo: iStock/Gary Gray