Physical Well-Being

How are we doing?

Percent of Population Who Reported Good or Excellent Health (2018)



In 2018, 81.6% of the Tucson Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSA) population reported good or excellent health. This ranked Tucson eighth among peer western communities and a little below the national rate. Colorado Springs ranked first with 86.4% of the population reporting good or excellent health, while El Paso’s rate of 72.8% placed it last. Tucson’s percentage of the population that reported good or excellent health decreased slightly from the previous year.

Why is it important?

Many factors determine one’s health and well-being. An individual’s health plays an important role in their quality of life. Additionally, diseases like diabetes, heart disease, and obesity have high financial costs for the nation. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S. Regular physical activity plays an important role in the prevention of many health-related diseases including heart disease. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services defines regular physical activity as participation in moderate and vigorous physical activities as well as muscle-strengthening activities. According to data collected in 2015 for the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System nearly 80% of adults in the U.S. do not meet the guidelines for both aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities. Health data is vital to identify emerging health problems and trends. Additionally, health data can be used to identify areas where public health policies may be needed and to evaluate existing programs.

How do we compare?

Residents living in the Tucson MSA reported an average of 4.3 poor physical health days per month. Tucson ranked ninth among peer western metropolitan areas. Those living in Denver reported the least number of poor physical health days during 2017 at 3.3 per month, while residents who live in Phoenix, El Paso, and Las Vegas reported the highest number of poor physical health days at 4.4.

In 2019, the reported incidence of heart conditions, both heart attacks, and coronary heart disease, in the state of Arizona were comparable to the nation. In 2012, the latest data that is available for Tucson, the reported rate of heart attacks at 2.9% was lower than the national rate. Similarly, the reported rate for coronary heart disease at 3.2% was 1.2 percentage points lower than the national rate in 2012.

Among the 12 western metropolitan areas, Tucson’s residents had the fourth-lowest prevalence of obesity in 2017. San Diego residents posted the lowest rate at 20.3% followed by Denver at 21.7%. The state of Texas had two metropolitan areas with high rates of obesity when compared to other peer communities in the west. El Paso had the highest rate among all the metropolitan areas at 31.5% and San Antonio the second-highest rate at 30.5%. 

The percentage of the population who had a diagnosed prevalence of diabetes in 2017 ranged from 6.3 to 10.9 percent among the western metropolitan areas. Tucson’s rate of 8.7% ranked it seventh, with Denver posting the lowest prevalence at 6.3% and Las Vegas the highest at 10.9%.

What are the key trends?

In 2018, the percentage of the population that reported good or excellent health in the Tucson MSA was slightly higher than the state but lower than the nation. The percentage of residents in Tucson that report good or excellent health over the past few years has generally been near 84.0% but has significantly declined the past two years. The nation has posted consistent rates of good or excellent health since 2011.

How is it measured?

A majority of the data reported in the Physical Well-Being indicator originates from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS). The BRFSS is a health-related telephone survey that collects state data about U.S. residents regarding their health-related risk behaviors, chronic health conditions, and use of preventative services. The BRFSS data presented is collected from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the County Health Rankings.