Top 5 Healthiest Cities in Australia in 2022
It’s that time of year when we rank the healthiest cities in Australia as part of the annual Mindbody Wellness Index—a comprehensive wellness study that explores the definition of wellness across a variety of dimensions.
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 consume, and their body mass index (BMI). We also looked at how close they are with friends and family and if they feel spiritually fulfilled.
During the pandemic, many Australians dived into exercise to feel better mentally, look better physically, help reduce stress. Even with activity levels high, the pandemic continues to have an impact. Half of Australians say the pandemic has negatively impacted their mental well-being and 42% report feeling stressed on a regular basis. Nevertheless, more than three-quarters of Australians say wellness is more important than ever and 74% believe being physically active helps their mental health.
The numbers have been crunched and analysed (and analysed some more) by our intrepid research team, so let’s pull the plug on this preamble and dig into which Australia cities are healthiest.
1. Sydney, NSW
It turns out the most populous city in Australia is also the healthiest. So much so, that Sydney ranked highest in 7 out of 9 wellness factors.
Sydney narrowly edged out Melbourne for the highest percentage (81%) of residents who engage in exercise at least once a week. The top reasons Sydneysiders exercise are to feel better mentally, look better physically, and reduce stress. They’re also cognizant of the role wellness plays in their lives—76% say wellness is a top priority.
As the most stress-free city in Australia, Sydney residents rely on some form of exercise to help their mental health. Nearly 80% say being physically active contributes to mental wellness—outpacing the other cities on this list. The most popular fitness routines include: yoga, Pilates, dance fitness, cardio machines, strength training, HIIT, aerobics (like cardio kickboxing), and outdoor activities (walking, biking, running).
When thinking about other dimensions of wellness, 55% say they feel more confident when they get regular beauty treatments. And why not? Treating oneself to beauty and grooming can boost confidence that positively contributes to overall wellness. In fact, 59% of Sydney residents believe beauty/grooming is a part of wellness and 43% say beauty/grooming is a big part of their life, the highest percentage among the competing cities.
2. Adelaide, SA
Coming in at #2 is Adelaide. Residents take their fitness seriously, with the highest percentage (53%) of residents who exercise 90 minutes or more per week—and they do it by relying on technology more so than the average Australian. Residents are most likely to exercise at home with a live streamed workout or a pre-recorded fitness video when compared to other cities.
While Adelaide residents love a home workout, they’re certainly not homebodies. More than half say they've started to go to in-person fitness classes they discovered through virtual fitness. Indeed, virtual fitness serves as a foray into in-person experiences that deliver on community and camaraderie.
Adelaide consumers also care deeply about recovery and wellness services. More than a third of residents regularly engage in recovery services post workout, such as massage, compression, cryotherapy, ice baths, or sauna sessions. Residents are also more likely than any other city to participate in detox programs.
With such a high motivation for physical wellness, it's no surprise that 56% of Adelaide residents say they’re satisfied with their overall health. However, that’s not all inhabitants focus on; they also come up top as the city that places the most importance on close relationships.
3. Perth, WA
The 3rd healthiest city in Australia? Perth. Perth residents shine across many categories but they really stand out with spiritual and social wellness. Perth boasts the highest percentage of residents who feel spiritually fulfilled. Additionally, consumers here feel more connected to their neighbourhood and community than any other city on the list.
When it comes to fitness, Perth has the second highest percentage of residents who exercise 90 minutes or more per week. Nearly half say going to a gym is part of their fitness routine, while over a third are all about the fitness or boutique studio experience. Among the fitness classes that Perth residents frequent most: HIIT, which is the most popular, and martial arts, a close 2nd.
Perth does have some work to do when it comes to managing stress levels. Nearly half (45%) feel stressed on a regular basis—the highest among Australian cities in our survey. Money woes might be the driving force in this case, as 43% of Perth residents are stressed by their financial situation, also the highest among the cities analysed.
That said, Perth is looking for ways to improve its wellness. Over the last year, 39% say they’ve started incorporating physical fitness to support their mental wellbeing, and 56% have tried or are interested in trying new services or treatments that support immune health. Beyond that, 12% have received health or life coaching. Interestingly, twice as many men than women have received this service.
4. Melbourne, VIC
Melbourne comes in at #4. Residents have a lot to be proud of health-wise, including their ability to get a great night’s rest. Melbourne is the most well-rested city in Australia, with the highest percentage of residents who get at least 7-8 hours of sleep nightly.
Nearly 75% of Melbourne says wellness is more important now than ever. They perhaps arrived at this junction by the heavy-handed restrictions placed on them during the ongoing pandemic, which had a detrimental effect on their psyche. To that point, 57% say the pandemic negatively impacted their mental well-being. Over half say the pandemic negatively impacted their physical health, too.
Nevertheless, Melburnians battled through and took steps to build better versions of themselves through group fitness. Among the most popular choices for in-person fitness are CrossFit®, HIIT, yoga, kickboxing, and weight/strength training.
Wellness isn’t strictly limited to fitness. Six out of ten Melbourne residents believe beauty/grooming is a part of wellness. Nearly a third of Melbourne consumers say the primary reason they book grooming or beauty services is to relax and 50% say they feel more confident as a result of beauty treatments.
5. Brisbane, QLD
Rounding out our list of healthiest Australian cities: Brisbane. Over the last year, roughly a third (32%) of Brisbanites have started incorporating physical fitness to support their mental well-being and nearly half have tried or are interested in trying services or treatments that support immune health.
A majority of residents are more focused on health and wellness since the pandemic started and nearly 70% say wellness is a high priority. Brisbane residents are also less stressed than other cities—only Sydney had a better showing there.
And the top reasons Brisbane consumers focus on their health and wellness? They want to improve their health, maintain it to focus on other important aspects of life, and lead a long and healthy life.