5 Healthiest Cities in Australia

Top 5 Healthiest Cities in Australia in 2021

By Alice Hall

Does your city come number as the healthiest in Australia? As part of the annual Mindbody Wellness Index we have ranked Australia’s five major cities in order from most healthy to least healthy. The rankings are based on the seven dimensions of wellness: physical, emotional, intellectual, spiritual, environmental, social, and occupational. We factored in how much city residents exercise, how stressed they are, the amount of rest they get, how many of them smoke, how much alcohol they drink, and their body mass index. We also looked at how close they are with friends and family, how connected they feel to their communities, and if they feel spiritually fulfilled.

It is by no surprise that 2020 was a testing year, and unfortunately some unhealthy habits were formed, with nearly 1 in 5 (18%) stating that they are drinking more alcohol. On the other hand, some healthier habits at home got stronger during the pandemic, with with close to half of Australians cooking and eating healthier (46%) and exercising at home (43%). As a result of the pandemic, consumers are placing greater emphasis on their health and wellness. In fact, almost 8 in 10 (75%) Australians stated that wellness is more important now than ever.

Find out how Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth, and Sydney battle it out to earn the crowning glory of Australian’s healthiest city.

Sydney NSW Australia

1. Sydney, NSW

Taking first place in this year's healthiest city rankings is Sydney, coming number one in the majority of the different categories. They also place the highest priority on their wellness compared to the rest of Australia, with 70% of Sydneysiders stated that wellness is a high priority for them.

When it comes to exercise routines, nearly half (48%) of Sydney residents work out at least 90 minutes per week, and they also opt for longer workouts compared to other Aussies. With its coastal surroundings and sunny weather, it is no wonder that 70% of residents exercise outdoors, with outdoor walking and outdoor running taking the top two spots for favourite exercises. The population also engage in more outdoor running, indoor cycling, HIIT, kickboxing, and barre than other Australians. For Sydneysiders, the pandemic did bring some added variety, with 28% of those who exercise in gyms/studios starting a new type of fitness class or exercise. Additionally, 23% of all Sydneysiders explored virtual offerings. 

Sydney residents are more motivated than other Australians by their physical appearance, with the top three reasons for exercising: to feel good (31%), look better physically (31%), and be strong and fit (31%).

Another area where Sydneysiders come up top? Spending. Sixteen percent are paying for more personal training since the pandemic; but it’s not just fitness, they also spend the most on beauty, grooming, and wellness. They also have a deeper relationship with beauty and grooming than other Australians, with nearly 6 in 10 (59%) stating that beauty and grooming is a core part of wellness. The end result? Forty-nine percent of Sydneysiders are either very satisfied or satisfied with their overall health.

Melbourne, VIC, Australia

2. Melbourne, VIC

Melbourne was hit with one of the world’s longest and strictest lockdowns, and as a result, 55% of residents stated their mental wellbeing was negatively impacted, and 53% said their weight was negatively impacted. Despite this, they remained resilient and nearly half (48%) exercised at home during the pandemic. When reflecting on their overall health, Melburnians come a close second to Sydneysiders, with 44% being very satisfied or satisfied with their own.

Although it doesn’t take the top spot in any category, Melbourne ranks highly across all health and wellness factors, especially when it comes to fitness. Seventy-five percent of residents work out at least once per week, and 46% exercise three times or more a week. Their preferred duration of exercise? Fifty-two percent opt for 30-60 minutes per session. With the lockdown lasting nearly a year, many Melburnians attempted to re-create a gym at home, with the most popular purchase being hand weights. But what did they rush to get back to in studio? Cardio machines, strength training, and dance fitness.

Some Melbournians have turned to other means of wellness, with 10% of residents meditating during the pandemic, and 15% of those meditating more frequently. Beauty regimes, however, became less of a priority during the lockdown, but now residents are excited to get back to beauty services, the main reason being to relax and take care of themselves. And they’re committed for the long run–with 58% stating they are more focused on health and wellness since the pandemic began.

Brisbane, QLD, Australia

3. Brisbane, QLD

Securing its spot as the third healthiest city in Australia is Brisbane, with strong results across all dimensions. Where the city really stands out is with stress, or, more specifically, the lack of it. Being the least-stressed city in Australia is certainly paying off, as Brisbane has the highest percentage of residents who get sufficient rest.

More than 6 in 10 (62%) residents say they have time for play and having fun—more than other Australians. They also place the most emphasis on water intake in Australia, with 59% of resident drinking the recommended amount each day. That’s not their only connection with the water; swimming is the third most popular type of exercise, behind outdoor walking and strength training. More than three-quarters (76%) believe wellness is more important than ever before. But what’s driving their wellness isn’t the desire to lose weight; in fact, compared to the rest of the country, they are the least motivated by weight. They were also the least likely to cancel their gym or studio membership compared to all Australians, with only 15% doing so at the peak of the pandemic.

Perth, WA, Australia

4. Perth, WA

Coming in at fourth place is Perth. Residents have the highest stress rates in Australia, and, as a result, are more focused on wellness in attempts to reduce stress. Perth also has the highest percentage of smokers and the lowest rate of recommended fruit and vegetable intake. However, residents are seeking change. Sixty-six percent of those more focused on health and wellness have realised they need to be healthier to withstand illness/disease, which is higher than any other city. 

When it comes to making those changes, residents may need a little extra help, with 59% of those less focused on health and wellness reporting they struggle with motivation. Twenty-seven percent of Perth residents stated they find it especially difficult to hold themselves accountable. When they are exercising, people from Perth like snackable workouts (30 minutes or less) and outdoor walking more than other Australians. When they head to the studio, their preference is strength training and cardio machines.

Wellness is about feeling good on the inside, and looking your best on the outside (and the confidence that comes with that) definitely helps. When it comes to beauty and grooming, 63% of those spending more time are doing so to “look and feel good,” which is higher than any other city. They are also more likely to change their hair, with 24% of people colouring their hair during the pandemic. Massages are also very popular, and 22% of residents have received a massage since the pandemic started (above the country-wide average of 17%).

Adelaide, SA, Australia

5. Adelaide, SA

Rounding off the list is Adelaide, a city that’s more sleep-deprived than any other. Adelaide residents also face the highest rates of “gymtimidation” (gym intimidation), with 22% of residents who do not currently attend a gym, stating this as a preventative reason. They are also more focused on losing weight than the rest of Australia. To do so, they’re experimenting; 32% of Adelaide residents engaged in virtual fitness have tried a new virtual fitness class that they had not tried before during the pandemic—the highest percentage of any of the other cities.

Nearly half (47%) have started cooking and eating more healthily since the pandemic, however, 20% admitted their alcohol consumption has also risen. But this isn’t stopping their dedication to exercise, 48% of residents work out three or more times a week, claiming the number one spot for Australia. Where else do they place number one? Being loyal studio members. Forty-six percent of Adelaide residents who exercise at gyms or studios work out at the same gym or studio they did prior to the pandemic.

And it’s not just about working out for Adelaide–locals are spending the same, or more, time on beauty and grooming, sharing the top spot with Brisbane. Why? Adelaide residents book beauty and grooming services because they want to relax and take care of themselves. Their favourite service is hair cutting, followed by hair colouring and facials.

About the author:

Alice Hall

Alice Hall

Regional Marketing Specialist APAC

Mindbody

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