Of course, it's no news to those of us who live here, but Colorado's quality of life can't be beat -- so much so that a recent study showed that life expectancy in three of our counties is actually the highest in the nation.

According to a new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the life expectancy in Summit County was 86.83 years between 1980 and 2014. That just barely beat neighboring Pitkin County (at 86.52) and Eagle County (at 85.94).

South Dakota's Oglala Lakota County scored the lowest, with people typically only living until 66.81 years, which is 20 years less than Colorado's three high-performing counties.

So why the dramatic difference? Why do residents in these Rocky Mountain communities live the longest?

life expectancy

"Summit County has very high education, high income, high access to medical care, the people are physically active, obesity is lower than anywhere else — so you're doing it right," said Dr. Ali Mokdad, one of the study's co-authors and the head of research for the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, the school that conducted the study.

Though it would seem that living at a high altitude could add further strain on people with heart disease, Dr. Mokdad's theory is people who bodies have acclimated and lived at a high elevation for a long period of time may actually end up being hardier and stronger, resulting in an extended life.

"There have been studies saying that if you live at higher altitudes you live longer," he said. "If you move there with a heart problem or heart condition it's going to put a strain on you, but if you grew up in that area, your body has adjusted to be more resilient. It's a good environment for your health."

The study identified five risk factors that account for 74 percent of the nation's life expectancy variations; they include obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, smoking, and physical inactivity. But if anybody's asking us, we'd add Colorado's gorgeous scenic views and crisp mountain air as huge factors to living a longer life! To look at the study's interactive map of the United States, click here.

Follow these moose safety tips to help you continue to live longer!