Top 10 Healthiest Cities in the World 2019

Which city tops this years list of the healthiest?

How healthy and fit is your city? An agency called Spotahome has used data from the WHO, OECD, CIA World Factbook, and others to compile a list of 89 cities across the world, ranking them from healthiest to unhealthiest based on how they fare on 10 criteria from “air and water quality” to “work-life balance”. The final score is calculated as an average of each of these factors.

Samir Becic 4 x Number 1 Fitness Trainer and author of ReSYNC Your Life and his Health Fitness Revolution team used the data mentioned above but removed three factors that we decided were less relevant to health: work-life balance (difficult to calculate), sunshine, and electric car charging stations. The factors we deemed highly tangible to better health are: life expectancy, gym rating, fast food outlets, obesity, vacation days, air and water quality, and green spaces.  We averaged the score of these 7 factors to compile the list of these Top 10 Healthiest Cities in the World.

With this article, we want to encourage other worldwide cities to be more physically fit and active in order to thrive in the modern world.  The wealth and prosperity of a nation are dependent on the health and physicality of its people.  Without further ado, here are this year’s Top 10 Healthiest Cities in the World:

10. Luxembourg, Luxembourg

The nice city of Luxembourg in Europe
  • Gym Rating: 7.14
  • Life Expectancy: 8.6
  • Fast Food Outlets: 7
  • Obesity: 2.5
  • Vacation Days: 7.67
  • Air and Water Quality: n/a
  • Green Space: 8.93

Luxembourg scored the highest in the number of vacation days for citizens amongst these 10 cities. Numerous studies have shown that taking time away from the job can have physical and psychological health benefits. People who take vacations have lower stress, less risk of heart disease, a better outlook on life, and more motivation to achieve goals. So go ahead and schedule that much-needed break from work! Here is an article we wrote about healthy vacation activities.

9. Ljubljana, Slovenia

Slovenian capital Ljubljana
  • Gym Rating: 9.09
  • Life Expectancy: 6.74
  • Fast Food Outlets: 7.36
  • Obesity: 3
  • Vacation Days: 5.37
  • Air and Water Quality: 8.18
  • Green Space: 9.48

Ljubljana scored highest in the amount of green spaces on this list. Green urban areas facilitate physical activity and relaxation, and form a refuge from noise. Trees produce oxygen, and help filter out harmful air pollution, including airborne particulate matter. Green spaces also are important to mental health. Having access to green spaces can reduce health inequalities, improve well-being, and aid in treatment of mental illness. Some analysis suggests that physical activity in a natural environment can help remedy mild depression and reduce physiological stress indicators. Read our article on the health benefits of communing in nature.

8. Brisbane, Australia

Brisbane, Australia
  • Gym Rating: 8.31
  • Life Expectancy: 8.6
  • Fast Food Outlets: 8.58
  • Obesity: 1.38
  • Vacation Days: 4.33
  • Air and Water Quality: 8.65
  • Green Space: 9.39

Australia and Luxembourg, just behind Singapore, had the highest life expectancy of any of the countries on this list. Life expectancy is a good measure of health because it is reflective of an active population that makes healthy eating choices, has quality education, and access to affordable healthcare. Countries that offer the highest quality of life tend to have the longest-living citizens. In fact, only a handful of countries have life expectancies greater than 80 years. You can also read our article on the health habits of centenarians!

7. Singapore, Singapore

Singapore, Singapore
  • Gym Rating: 6.49
  • Life Expectancy: 9.95
  • Fast Food Outlets: 9.44
  • Obesity: 7.67
  • Vacation Days: 0
  • Air and Water Quality: 7.34
  • Green Space: 8.38

Out of these 10 healthiest cities, Singapore scored the highest in life expectancy, lowest number of fast food outlets, and lowest obesity rate. It’s no surprise that fast food is bad for your health- this particular study even tested how proximity and access to fast food increases the risk of obesity. One possible explanation is that proximity to fast food reduces the costs of fast food, principally travel costs. A second explanation is that easier access to fast food tempts consumers who have self-control problems. So while the number of fast food chains is increasing globally, Singapore actually saw a reduction! There were 488 fast food restaurants in 2015, and only 477 in 2016.

6. Wellington, New Zealand

Wellington, New Zealand
  • Gym Rating: 9.48
  • Life Expectancy: 8.14
  • Fast Food Outlets: 7.7
  • Obesity: 1.17
  • Vacation Days: 4.33
  • Air and Water Quality: 10
  • Green Space: 9.29

Wellington scored highest in air and water quality. Clean air and water support healthy brain and body function, growth, and development. Water and air quality affect our bodies, drinking water, and crops and vegetation- all of which are major contributors to general health.

5. Adelaide, Australia

Adelaide, Australia
  • Gym Rating: 8.7
  • Life Expectancy: 8.6
  • Fast Food Outlets: 9.06
  • Obesity: 1.38
  • Vacation Days: 4.33
  • Air and Water Quality: 8.88
  • Green Space: 9.42

Adelaide ranked highly in both air/ water quality and access to green space. According to a Medibank study published in 2016, Australians are running and jogging more than they were ten years ago, with participation rates growing more than 50% across both disciplines over the last nine years. We’re not surprised, given that they have great green space access! Read our article on the health benefits of running.

4. Helsinki, Finland

Helsinki, Finland
  • Gym Rating: 5.58
  • Life Expectancy: 8
  • Fast Food Outlets: 8.62
  • Obesity: 2.65
  • Vacation Days: 7.23
  • Air and Water Quality: 9.74
  • Green Space: 8.89

Thirty years ago, Finland was one of the world’s unhealthiest nations. Diet was poor, people were inactive and heart disease was at record levels. Now it’s one of the fittest countries on earth with Helsinki in our Top 10. In 1971, the Finnish government hired Pekka Puska, a 27-year-old doctor fresh out of medical school and fresh with ideas. He’d also completed graduate work in social science. He fervently believed that high rates of heart disease were not inevitable and that the disease’s roots were lifestyle related. The problems to attack were smoking, physical inactivity, and a diet loaded with saturated fat and lacking in fruits and vegetables. Dr. Puska stressed to government officials that healthy choices should be easy, maybe even fun. And the only way to make them easy, this past president of the national student’s union asserted, was to get all of society on board, including health centers, worksites, the media, supermarkets, women’s groups, schools, private industry, and legislation. Today, they are one of the only countries (with Canada) who has reduced their unhealthy rates!

3. Vienna, Austria

Vienna, Austria
  • Gym Rating: 5.58
  • Life Expectancy: 8.28
  • Fast Food Outlets: 9.08
  • Obesity: 3.35
  • Vacation Days: 6.17
  • Air and Water Quality: 9.14
  • Green Space: 9.35

In 2018, according to the annual Economist Intelligence Unit’s global liveability index, Vienna was the best place to live in the world based on a large number of factors- ranging from healthcare to crime to humidity. This healthy city scored perfectly in stability, healthcare, education and infrastructure. It has a low crime rate and relatively low population density. Couple this with great air quality and green spaces, and you may want to pack your bags now!

2. Tallinn, Estonia

Tallinn, Estonia
  • Gym Rating: 10
  • Life Expectancy: 6.09
  • Fast Food Outlets: 9.07
  • Obesity: 3.06
  • Vacation Days: 7.63
  • Air and Water Quality: 8.8
  • Green Space: 7.51

Tallinn had the highest gym rating of any other city on this list. People who live close to gyms, pools and playing fields weigh less and have smaller waistlines than their counterparts residing farther away from exercise facilities, a study suggests. Living far away from fast food outlets also appeared to help people maintain a lower weight and trimmer waist, although this connection wasn’t as strong as the proximity of gyms, researchers report in the Lancet Public Health.

1. Munich, Germany

Munich, Germany
  • Gym Rating: 6.62
  • Life Expectancy: 7.91
  • Fast Food Outlets: 9.07
  • Obesity: 2.87
  • Vacation Days: 7.2
  • Air and Water Quality: 9.17
  • Green Space: 9

Munich scored high across the board and is no stranger to “best cities” lists. In 2018, Monocle, the urbane lifestyle magazine named Munich, Germany the most livable city in the world. Munich strikes the perfect balance between a city that runs like a well-oiled machine yet still fun to live in. The city’s public transportation is clean and comfortable, the crime rate is low and the streets well-maintained. Munich is highly international; with eighteen universities and a strong economy with an enviable 4% unemployment rate. If you’ve never been before, it may be a good time to go visit this healthy Bavarian city- and if you want better health, consider moving there!

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