How does Leeds rate as an active city?

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We went looking for the world’s most active city. Here’s what we learnt.  It sort of depends who’s counting, and why! There are lots of different lists of ‘most active cities’. Some are published by health organisations, some by tourist boards and some by business and investment magazines. There are even lists of cities who are working to become more active and have joined together to share their ideas and progress.

What does this all tell us? Well, first of all, Leeds isn’t wrong to want to be more active. People who live, work and study in cities want to be healthy and to enjoy life, and want to be around others having fun too. And a visibly happy, healthy, active city is good for business – otherwise those tourism and investment magazines wouldn’t be so interested!

It also shows how hard it is to measure. The lifestyle lists feature everything from trekking to yoga and spa treatments. Some lists simply hoover up all the cycling, running and walking data from people’s phone apps (see our illustration). The health-based lists measure the illnesses and conditions that activity can help prevent.  There’s more than one definition of activity, more than one motivation for getting active, and many aspects of city life that affect how active we can be.

We’ll be keeping an eye on what other cities are up to, and reporting back here to add to the conversation about a more active Leeds.

Norway’s Lillehammer, for example, has joined the Global Active Well-being Initiative and is making changes to help the least active do more. Over in Dubai, Sheikh Hamdan al Maktoum asked all citizens to be active for 30 minutes for 30 days; reports say a quarter of the population joined in.  What should Leeds do? Use this website to share your ideas and have your say.

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