Sun, Sept. 22

WalletHub gives Tucson top marks for healthy living

PHOENIX -- When it comes to wanting to live healthy, Tucson is a good place to be.

That's according to the latest WalletHub survey which rated the 100 largest communities across the nation based largely on the opportunities and costs of being physically active. When the financial advice web site weighed everything, Tucson came out No. 8.

Several factors seem to be working in favor of residents of the Old Pueblo.

WalletHub says Tucson has the sixth highest number of public swimming pools per capita of all the cities rated. It also scored sixth on public courses as weighed against population. And Tucson had more little league teams per capita than all but two other communities.

At the other extreme, at least for Arizona, Gilbert came in at No. 74.

The community wasn't helped by being close to the bottom nationwide for public tennis courts. In fact, only Jersey City, N.J. and Boise, Idaho scored lower.

Gilbert didn't score much better in park playgrounds, coming in at No. 94. And it was also near the bottom on the number of available basketball hoops.

The survey comes on the heels of the annual Thanksgiving food fest. The Calorie Control Council estimates the average American consumes more than 4,500 calories and 229 grams of fat during a typical holiday gathering when considering the meal and all the snacking that goes along.

And Christmas is coming.

So if people aren't going to eat less, the alternative is exercising more.

The WalletHub survey looks beyond the number of official places to do that, including baseball diamonds, ice skating rinks and skateboard parks. There also are ratings on other opportunities like bike rental facilities and sports clubs.

And there are financial considerations. It costs far less to play golf in Phoenix, Tucson and Mesa than it does in Scottsdale.

Looking at things a bit different, Wallet Hub found that a higher percentage of Tucson residents say they participate in any physical activity than their Phoenix area counterparts.

It also turns out there are more fitness trainers and aerobics instructors on a per capita basis in Tucson than in the Valley communities. In fact, Tucson has more sporting goods stores, measured against population, than any of the Phoenix area cities studied.

Finally, WalletHub incorporates the results of a separate study done by Walk Score which rates communities based on their "walkability' index. That includes access to nearby amenities like good, entertainment, shopping and parks as well as access to bike lanes and public transit so people can leave their cars at home.

Among Arizona communities, Tucson scored the highest; Gilbert was at the bottom.

Follow Howard Fischer on Twitter at @azcapmedia.

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