A study co-authored by Dr Caroline Shaw from the University of Otago and Professor Alistair Woodward at the University of Auckland has found that Wellington is New Zealand’s ‘fittest city'.
Wellingtonians, it was found, walk more and take more trips by public transport than other New Zealanders.
The ‘Fittest City’ study has been released today as part of the New Zealand launch of the world’s largest health and wellbeing programme, AIA Vitality.
“New Zealand cities vary widely, not only in geography, but also in urban planning and transport decision-making. There are consequences for population health, greenhouse gas emissions and local air pollution,” says Professor Alistair Woodward.
“We used levels of walking, cycling and public transport use to estimate the effects on health and the environment in the six largest New Zealand cities.”
While Wellington was crowned the fittest due to the highest levels of physical activity for transport rather than just recreation, Christchurch had the highest number of annual cycle trips, Dunedin scored best on light vehicle emissions, and Tauranga had the fewest transport-related injuries. Hamilton came in third place for trips by public transport and for air quality, while Auckland came in second for public transport use but demonstrated the most to gain if it adopted the recommendations in the Fittest City report.
The science behind AIA Vitality
AIA Vitality is a global, science-backed programme which will help New Zealanders understand the current state of their health, remove barriers to better health, and incentivise them to stay motivated to improve their health through exercise, nutrition and health screenings.
Damien Mu, AIA Australia and New Zealand CEO, says, “Our purpose is to make a difference in people’s lives and champion New Zealand and Australia to be the healthiest nations in the world. Cardiovascular diseases, cancer, chronic respiratory diseases and diabetes account for 90% of premature deaths in New Zealand. All of these can be greatly influenced by lifestyle behaviours and positive changes, including even small increases in physical activity and other healthy choices.”
“This is why we’ve introduced AIA Vitality, and why we’ve produced the Fittest City report. We want to help New Zealanders achieve the great dream of Healthier, Longer, Better Lives. We are going to be able to transform the role that we play in our customers’ lives and in society, from simply being a payer of claims, to a partner in their ongoing health and wellbeing,” says Mr Mu.
AIA New Zealand intends for the Fittest City report to show how Kiwis can increase their base level of fitness, and how technology can help to address the global pandemic of physical inactivity, by motivating people to move more. The Vitality programme globally has helped to increase the physical activity levels of its members by 24%.
Nick Stanhope, AIA New Zealand CEO, says, “Ten percent of all deaths worldwide are caused by physical inactivity. While physical inactivity may be a problem for every country, us Kiwis are not as fit as we may believe. We need to get moving more.”
“But the good news is that healthier living need not be difficult or unattainable. By making small changes we can make a world of difference,” says Mr Stanhope.
For more details, or to arrange for an interview, please contact:
Craig Glover on 027 275 3405; or
Rosalyn Lambert on 021 265 0223