Spotlight on Milwaukee: Health and Fitness in Wisconsin’s Largest City

Today’s post takes a look at the metropolitan statistical area of Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis in Wisconsin. The fictional home of The Fonz, Richie Cunningham, Laverne and Shirley, is more accurately famous for its tradition as a brewing and manufacturing town.

Milwaukee ranked 21st in the most recent ACSM American Fitness Index® () data report, which evaluates the 50 most populous city areas and identifies the healthiest and fittest places in the United States. The metro area earned a score of 51.8 (out of 100 possible points) in 2011, moving up from a rank of 27th and a score of 49.2 in 2010.

Wisconsin’s largest metro area ranked 17th on personal health indicators related to health behaviors, chronic health problems and health care.

Milwaukee has an above-average percentage of smokers (18.9%) among the 50 metro areas included in the data report. And residents of this region are above average at getting physical activity. Seventy-nine percent of residents report getting physical activity in the last 30 days and 53% report being physically active at least moderately.

The percentage of residents with chronic health concerns is typically just below average. Nine in 10 residents have health insurance.

The area ranked 34th on community/environmental indicators related to the built environment, recreational facilities, park-related expenditures, physical education requirements and primary health care providers. The area has an above average number of farmers’ markets (22.4/1,000,000). Milwaukee scored very low on the number of recreation centers and tennis courts and spends only $59 per capita on park-related expenditures (the MSA average is $101.5).

Walk Score recently ranked Milwaukee as the 15th most walkable of the 50 largest U.S. cities. Milwaukee also lies on Lake Michigan, making it a popular venue for water activities such as sailing and windsurfing.

For a complete list of the Milwaukee’s strengths and challenges, plus a breakdown of the components that helped make up its score, please visit the website and download the Milwaukee report at