Madison ranks 4th in fittest U.S. cities

The Wisconsin capital topped the list in parks per capita.
Published: Jul. 13, 2021 at 11:45 AM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Buoyed by its love of exercise and high number of parks, Wisconsin’s capital city finds itself among elite company in a new ranking of fittest cities in the country.

Madison slotted just inside the top five in the latest American Fitness Index survey of 100 American cities. The list, developed by the American College of Sports Medicine, compares the nation’s largest metropolises based on numerous categories, split between personal health ranks and community health ranks.

It was in the former that Madison excelled, surpassing its overall rank and claiming fourth spot. When it came to the community category, which also included environmental factors, the city started to lag. Not only did it finish a tick outside the top twenty, it also was well behind the other Wisconsin city ranked in the survey, Milwaukee.

The state’s largest city soared to 12th for community fitness. However, with a personal health rank in the bottom third (70th) of the towns surveyed, Milwaukee could not climb any higher than 43rd fittest overall.

Ironically, despite ranking much lower in overall community health, it was in one of those measures that Madison fared the best and without equal. With nearly 11 parks per 10,000 residents, Madison topped every other city included, with the survey also finding 95 percent of residents are within a 10-minute walk to at least one of those parks.

The parks come in handy too, given how much Madisonians enjoy exercise. Even though the overall fittest city in the survey, Arlington, Virginia, was also the one with the highest percentage (85.7%) of people reporting they had exercised in the past 30 days, Madison was not too far behind. According to index, 84.3 percent of the city’s residents have exercised in the past month, just over a percentage point off Arlington’s benchmark and more than eight points higher than the national average of 75.7 percent.

Arlington’s first place finish in this latest survey also marks the fourth-consecutive year they topped the list. Here’s the full top ten:

  1. Arlington, Va.
  2. Minneapolis, Minn.
  3. Seattle, Wash.
  4. Denver, Colo.
  5. Madison, Wisc.
  6. Washington, D.C.
  7. St. Paul, Minn.
  8. Irvine, Calif.
  9. Portland, Ore.
  10. Atlanta, Ga.

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