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The UK's Fittest (and Unfittest) Cities

When it comes to keeping fit and healthy, we all know that staying motivated, exercising regularly and maintaining a balanced diet are the key to success. 

Here at OriGym, we specialise in assisting aspiring and experienced personal trainers in reaching their goals. As experts in the health and fitness industry, we analysed every city across the UK to reveal which cities are the fittest - and which ones aren’t!

Whether you’re hitting the gym, biking around, taking a dip in the local pool or are looking for the healthiest restaurant to eat out, every city has something different to offer. But which are the best UK cities to live in for physical fitness?

Ranked: The UK’s Top 20 Fittest Cities

To rank the UK’s fittest cities, we analysed each city based on the following seven factors, giving a score for each, before combining this to give an overall fitness score:

  • Number of gyms
  • Number of swimming pools
  • Number of tennis clubs
  • Number of athletics clubs
  • Number of cycling clubs
  • Search volume (number of people searching)  for 'home workouts'
  • Number of restaurants given a ‘healthy eating’ rating on TripAdvisor

From the most cycle-friendly to the most-proactive city during lockdown, we reveal which cities come out on top form…

Rank

City

Overall Score (/483)

Gyms Score

Swimming Pool Score

Tennis Court Score

Athletics Clubs Score

Cycling Clubs Score

Home Workouts Score

Healthy Restaurants Score

1

Birmingham

457

68

69

69

53

67

69

62

2

Leeds

453

66

68

68

66

63

62

60

3

Manchester

440

62

66

50

67

65

64

66

4

Bristol

410

51

58

62

55

59

64

61

5

Glasgow

409

69

67

26

58

62

69

58

6

Liverpool

408

58

60

56

47

60

64

63

7

Edinburgh

407

67

59

54

40

57

62

68

8

Sheffield

402

60

51

65

60

58

60

48

9

Bradford

390

59

57

50

63

64

40

57

10

Newcastle upon Tyne

385

50

45

52

64

56

59

59

11

Nottingham

358

57

54

48

55

34

56

54

12

Belfast

346

65

60

19

44

42

60

56

13

Leicester

342

45

35

57

52

47

56

50

14

Brighton

341

40

48

55

51

42

40

65

15

City of London

325

37

22

1

68

67

67

63

16

Coventry

325

45

52

45

37

46

56

44

17

Salford

323

33

29

23

65

66

40

67

18

Cardiff

320

63

64

36

42

27

33

55

19

Oxford

316

29

44

65

47

49

40

42

20

Portsmouth

314

35

35

41

49

55

51

48

Revealed: Birmingham is the fittest city in the UK

The City of Birmingham: https://unsplash.com/photos/u44HcmdG0Oo 

When analysing which cities in the UK are the fittest overall, it’s no surprise that some of the country's largest cities make their way into the top three.

The city of Birmingham came up top with an impressive score of 457. As the second largest city in the UK, Birmingham boasts 182 gyms, 89 swimming pools, 79 tennis courts and 83 cycling clubs!

With a mere four points between them, the city of Leeds comes in second place with an overall score of 453. The Yorkshire city offers 137 gyms, 71 swimming pools, 71 tennis courts and 68 athletics clubs.

Following closely behind is the city of Manchester. Despite offering slightly fewer gyms and swimming pools, Manchester earns an overall score of 440 thanks to it’s 59 healthy eating restaurants and 70 athletics clubs - which is the third highest number of athletics clubs within our research.

These are the UK’s unfittest cities and Bangor comes out on top

The Welsh Flag: https://unsplash.com/s/photos/welsh-flag

As well as the fittest, this report also revealed the unfittest cities across the UK, highlighting the areas that don’t have an abundance of gyms and healthy food options - and Bangor, Wales comes out on top.

Rank

City

Overall Score (/483)

Gyms Score

Swimming Pool Score

Tennis Court Score

Athletics Clubs Score

Cycling Clubs Score

Home Workouts Score

Healthy Restaurants Score

1

Bangor (Wales)

25

3

2

1

12

3

1

3

2

Newry

40

4

4

1

16

1

8

6

3

Hereford

71

10

11

25

8

3

8

6

4

Ely

86

49

7

5

16

6

1

2

5

Inverness

89

21

6

5

8

24

8

17

6

Derry

95

36

2

4

16

1

30

6

7

Salisbury

101

2

12

45

12

12

14

4

8

Perth

101

42

1

13

5

20

14

6

9

Lichfield

103

1

12

11

28

44

1

6

10

Carlisle

105

10

17

18

16

17

14

13

11

Lisburn

107

17

5

5

22

31

14

13

12

Truro

108

6

20

27

11

9

1

34

13

Lancaster

110

19

23

20

12

9

14

13

14

Lincoln

114

4

8

9

28

12

26

27

15

Newport

116

24

18

27

34

6

1

6

16

Ripon

135

17

32

56

12

16

1

1

17

Canterbury

143

8

18

38

25

9

14

31

18

Chelmsford

147

20

32

37

1

26

14

17

19

Worcester

150

22

14

8

21

36

26

23

20

Stirling

156

40

8

13

16

48

14

17

According to our research, Bangor is the UK’s unfittest city with a mere score of 25. Across the city there are just 20 gyms, two swimming pools, one tennis court and only two healthy eating restaurants - which means that maintaining a healthy lifestyle can be restricted. 

Bangor is closely followed by Newry and Hereford in second and third place, with 40 and 71 points respectively. The cities of Inverness, Lincoln, Ripon and Chelmsford have all made the top 20 unfittest cities too.

Search Volumes: These cities are the most committed to home workouts

Rank

City

"Home Workouts" Yearly Search Volume

Score

1

Birmingham

4680

69

2

Glasgow

3840

68

3

City of London

3240

67

When gyms and fitness studios across the country were forced to close their doors at the start of the pandemic, many people turned to home workouts and daily walks to burn energy and stay in shape. 

We wanted to find out where in the UK stayed committed to their fitness goals throughout lockdown, by analysing the number of “home workout” searches.

Taking the top spot again is the city of Birmingham, who racked up an impressive 4680 searches for the term over the last 12 months, resulting in a workout score of 69. 

The city of Glasgow comes in second place with 3840 yearly searches and a workout score of 68. And in third place is the City of London with 3240 searches for “home workouts” and a score of 67.

Cambridge is the healthiest city to eat out in

The City of Cambridge - https://unsplash.com/photos/Ml_MmQXkfK4 

As healthy eating plays a vital role in our physical health and wellbeing, we sought to find which cities in the UK were the best for healthy eating. 

Rank

City

Number Of "Healthy" Restaurants

Score

1

Cambridge

122

69

2

Edinburgh

86

68

3

Salford

67

67

Analysing TripAdvisor for those restaurants which were given a “healthy eating” rating, our data revealed that Cambridge is the best city for eating out whilst eating healthy, with a healthy eating score of 69 and 122 healthy restaurants to choose from.

The beautiful Scottish city of Edinburgh came in second with a healthy eating score of 68 and 86 restaurants offering healthy menus. Salford, in Greater Manchester, came third place with a healthy eating score of 67 and 67 restaurants.

These cities are the most cycle-friendly

Cycling in the City of London - https://unsplash.com/photos/0ipWO44-org 

We know that keeping fit doesn’t always mean hitting the gym, that’s why we analysed the number of cycling clubs within each city to find out which cities are the most cycle-friendly.

Rank

City

Number of Cycling Clubs

Score

1

City of London

83

67

2

Birmingham

83

67

3

Westminster

83

67

4

Salford

77

66

Interestingly, the City of London, Birmingham and Westminster all come in joint-first place as each city offers 83 cycling clubs and achieved a cycling club score of 67. 

Following closely behind, cities the north-west takes over, with the city of Salford in second. The 77 cycling clubs in Salford, earned the city a cycling club score of 66. 

Looking to take your fitness to the next level?

At OriGym, we pride ourselves in being able to provide outstanding personal training qualifications nationwide. Thanks to our excellent range of facilities across the UK, as well as our extensive e-Learning options, you can find the right personal training course for you, wherever you are!

Methodology 

A total of 69 cities were analysed; 51 in England, seven in Scotland, six in Wales, and five in Northern Ireland. A full methodology and a list of sources used in the data can be found below:

The number of gyms, swimming pools and tennis courts (indoor and outdoor) in England were taken from Sport England's Active Places open data. For Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales, these were pulled from Google Maps.

Athletics clubs were sourced from; England Athletics, Scotland Athletics, Athletics NI and Welsh Athletics. The number of clubs was calculated using a 10 mile radius from each location.  

Search volume for 'home workouts' was sourced from Google Keyword planner to gain monthly search volumes, which was then multiplied by 12 to give us an average yearly search volume.

Healthy restaurants were sourced from TripAdvisor. For each location, we looked at the number of restaurants listed that sat within the 'healthy' cuisine filtering.

Cycling Clubs were sourced from Cycling UK and used a 10 mile radius from the location to generate the number of clubs.

Sources

https://www.activeplacespower.com/OpenData/download 

https://www.sportengland.org/know-your-audience/data#activeplaces-2916 

https://www.englandathletics.org/find-an-athletics-club/ 

https://www.scottishathletics.org.uk/clubs/club-finder/ 

https://athleticsni.org/Clubs/Find-A-Club 

https://www.welshathletics.org/en/club/search 

https://www.cyclinguk.org/ 



Written by Luke Hughes

CEO and Co-Founder

Join Luke on Facebook at the OriGym Facebook Group

Luke is the CEO and Co-Founder of OriGym. Holding a first-class degree in Sport and Exercise and an MSc in Sport and Nutrition, he is also qualified as a Level 4 Personal Trainer with various specialist credentials covering the entire spectrum of health, fitness and business. Luke has contributed to a variety of major industry publications, including Men’s Health, Women’s Health, Daily Telegraph, The Guardian, Metro, Cosmopolitan, The Mirror, The Sun, The Standard and more.

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