Do You Live in One of the Nine Fittest Cities in the World?

Recently, London boroughs have revealed plans to transform the capital into the world’s healthiest major global city through joint working and revolution.

A city is usually deemed a desirable location to live in according to many things, including such necessities as an effective infrastructure. However, people will also be drawn to a particularly city or region because of the weather, or even necessity as certain jobs become scarce in some countries while industries boom in others.

For those are invested in meeting their #fitnessgoals there is one factor that is important and that is: What makes a city one of the fittest cities?

That is the task that is ahead for London in wanting to come into contention for the title of “The Healthiest City in the World.”

Of course this is important for many reasons, the main of which being that health is so closely correlated to happiness! If a city does not have the bare necessities in providing it’s citizens ease of health and ways to improve their fitness, then this can lead to an unhealthy and therefore unhappy population.

Since 1990, the United Nations Development Programme has been tracking the socioeconomic performance of nations using the Human Development Index (HDI), a composite indicator that measures education, health and living standards. However there are other factors in determining a fit city such as the activities a city offers for it’s citizens and their participation in such activities. As such, this list has been compiled using a variety of sources:

1. Singapore

By most accounts Singapore is one of the fittest cities in the world. Calling itself the Garden City, the many parks, trails, and green spaces throughout the city provide amble opportunity for someone to go out and get some exercise. According to the “CIA World Fact Book” it is also the city with the fourth highest life expectancy, sitting at a ripe old age of 84.07 years. Combined with strict laws on imported foods, as well as following a traditional diet, Singapore ranks as one of the healthiest cities in the world.

2. Tokyo, Japan

The city has one of the best transport systems in the world, also a system with one of the lowest gas emissions. Despite what has been said about Tokyo there are a lot of open green spaces still available where the young and old can stretch and exercise. The clean and tidy surroundings are also a plus. The Japanese culture assures a big family unit that is ready to take care of their own when the need arises. To some extent these ties extend to the local community where they live.  Despite their serious nature, Japanese also have an excellent sense of humor as shown in their manga (comics), anime (cartoons) and even their TV gameshows.

3. Hong Kong

Hong Kong has one of the highest population densities of any city in the world combined with one of the wealthiest: gross national income per capita is $45,090 (£28,115). With every square foot of real estate at a premium, people tend to stay out of the home to socialise; local restaurants become neighbourhood living rooms. According to LSE Cities, nearly 45% of all trips in Hong Kong are made on foot. All of which lends itself to a very healthy lifestyle. Its life expectancy, at 82.5, is one of the world’s highest; its infant mortality rate, one of the lowest. It also has a high number of registered doctors – 12,818 to be precise, at the end of 2011, which is a ratio of 1:554 of the population. Given the city’s density, that probably means most people live in the same building as one.

4. Stockholm, Sweden

Sweden came fourth in Gallup’s Global Wellbeing Index, and Stockholm joint sixth in Mercer’s 2011 global city rankings for personal safety. An increasingly wealthy city, its Gross Value Added per capita has grown by 41% from 1993 to 2010. It is also green – the world’s first national urban park is Stockholm’s Royal National City Park, which remains an urban lung stretching for six miles within the city. Per capita GGE decreased by a whopping 31% from 1993 to 2010. And Stockholm also scores highly for mental stimulus, with one of the highest concentrations of museums in the world – there are more than 100.

5. Sydney, Australia

Sydney is blessed with abundant parkland and all-year-round good weather, and the government has done well in building many parks and trails where people can go out to exercise or just enjoy the fresh air- so much so that enjoying the outdoors is a proud part of Sydney culture. There are also many fitness gyms and sports facilities, which were opened to the public after the city’s hosting the 2000 Summer Olympics, to make sure the populations stays fit and healthy. Sydney also ranks high in education with learning not being limited to school and universities but a number of museums including several designed for children. Despite being a developed city, pollution in Sydney is also among the world’s lowest, thanks to their focus on the use of bicycles and constant planting and maintenance of trees.

6. Copenhagen, Denmark

Copenhageners love to walk. Foot traffic accounts for 80 percent of all traffic in the Copenhagen city center. Those who prefer can also bike. It is estimated more than a third of all work trips in Copenhagen are carried out on a bike. The biking is not just for the locals, tourists are encouraged to join with “free token bikes” and there are more than 300km of designated bike lanes all over the city.  As soon as everything starts to freeze it turns several city squares into huge skating fields. The frozen parts of the city also make it easier for residents to skate around.

7. Havana, Cuba

Consider these facts: Cuba, a country with 11 million people, has an average life expectancy of 79 years, the same as the life expectancy in the United States. The infant mortality rate is actually better than in America. And the Cuban government spends an average of just $400 per person on health care; the United States spends close to $9,000.

How? One word: prevention.

8. Washington, D.C.

Washington D.C is consistently ranked as one of America and the world’s fittest cities. With a reported 80.1% exercise rathe, the United States capital scores high on almost every measure of fitness, whether it’s bicycling commuters, farmers’ markets or recreation centers.

9. Napa, California

Although Napa is best known for its wine, there are other health benefits to living in Napa. According to the city’s residents: 

Members of the Obesity Prevention Coalition bike to the group’s meetings. Queen of the Valley Medical Center teaches nutritional cooking classes in both English and Spanish. A Breastfeeding Coalition encourages new mothers to breastfeed their babies. There’s even a hula-hooping group, the Napa Hoopers, led by hula-hoop pro Lilea Duran.

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

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