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Another national accolade for Madison, this one from Huffington Post for being one of the country's 25 healthiest cities.

Other cities on the list include San Jose, for easily accessible organic food, St. Paul for promotion of heart health, Fargo, for regular church attendance and San Francisco for its culture. According to authors of the article, Madison made the list because citizens are safe, sound, and well fed.

Why it won: Highest scores in low crime rates and affordable fresh produce Happiness hub: The University of Wisconsin-Madison Arboretum, which includes prairies, savannas, and 20 miles of trails

Laid out on an isthmus surrounded by two sparkling lakes, Madison is known for its natural beauty. But it didn't win for its good looks. Madison's low crime rates and easy-to-find, budget-friendly healthy foods make it our No. 1 pick for city life. Neighborhoods are key, and more than 120 distinct neighborhood associations work together to protect each other. "Both the city and the police force here are very proactive," says Patti Seger, a nonprofit administrator who came to Madison for college in 1979 and never left. "Safety of all kinds is something people here take very seriously."

Madison is both a college town and state capital, which has made civic involvement part of its DNA. "This isn't a city of sheep," Seger says. "The fact that people here are so vigilant about what's happening in state and local politics also makes them more vigilant about crime." That safety means Madisonians move freely outdoors, riding the city's plentiful bike paths (plowed all winter), cross-country skiing under the lights at the city's largest trail, or paddling kayaks.

Madison is also home to the country's largest producer-only farmers' market. (If you didn't grow it or produce it yourself in Wisconsin, you can't sell it.)

Takeaway: Heart your 'hood. Community involvement doesn't just make you safe, it makes you healthy. Volunteering just 100 hours per year less than two hours a week has been shown to boost self-esteem, reduce risks of heart disease and depression, and help you live longer.

"This acknowledgement is great," said Mayor Paul Soglin. "They didn't even mention our beautiful lakes, access to B-cycles, or our incredible parks and the organized as well as organic activities there and we still received a high ranking. We welcome the recognition and look forward to maintaining our reputation as a healthy place to live, work, and raise a family."


  • Katie Crawley, 608-266-4611