The Dominion Post

Wellington claims ‘f ittest’ city crown

- Ruby Macandrew ruby.macandrew@stuff.co.nz

Trudging up and down hills to get to work has paid off for Wellington­ians – with the capital being dubbed the country’s fittest city.

The enviable title was awarded after a joint study by University of Otago and University of Auckland academics found that Wellington had the highest levels of physical activity for transport, rather than just recreation.

Christchur­ch pipped the capital when it came to the highest number of annual cycle trips, while Dunedin scored best on light vehicle emissions and Tauranga had the fewest transportr­elated injuries.

The rankings, released yesterday by internatio­nal insurance firm AIA, used levels of walking, cycling and public transport to estimate the effects on health and the environmen­t, co-author Professor Alistair Woodward said.

‘‘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.’’

Co-author Dr Caroline Shaw, from the University of Otago in Wellington, led a study of New Zealand’s cities in 2016 and found that cities with higher levels of cycling and walking have better overall population health.

Using Wellington as an example, five other main centres were measured for their use of public transport, as well as rates of cycling and walking.

From that, Shaw and her team determined that around 200 lives could be saved if the other cities adopted Wellington’s public transport patterns.

However, she said the capital could also do better. ‘‘Wellington Dr Caroline Shaw shouldn’t rest on its laurels. We didn’t select it as the control city because it’s perfect.’’

Shaw said a lot of the capital’s current situation as the fittest could be traced back to decisions made decades ago.

‘‘The decisions that city councillor­s make over a long period of time do make a impact ... I’m talking 30, 40, 50 years.’’

Mt Victoria resident Emily Swan is one Wellington­ian helping contribute to the city’s newlyearne­d fittest title. She gets up every morning for a jog, through parts of the city she described as ‘‘a Lord Of The Rings film set’’.

‘‘That for me is the Wellington lifestyle.’’

It was an attitude as well, she said, ‘‘we eat hills for breakfast’’.

About 10 per cent of all deaths worldwide were caused by physical inactivity, AIA New Zealand chief executive Nick Stanhope said, with Kiwis not immune. ‘‘We need to get moving more.’’

‘‘We didn’t select it (Wellington) as the control city because it’s perfect.’’

 ?? KEVIN STENT/STUFF ?? Emily Swan, who says she ‘‘eats hills for breakfast’’, steps out on her daily jog up Mt Victoria. Such physical activity is common in Wellington, which has been recognised as the ‘‘fittest city’’ in New Zealand.
KEVIN STENT/STUFF Emily Swan, who says she ‘‘eats hills for breakfast’’, steps out on her daily jog up Mt Victoria. Such physical activity is common in Wellington, which has been recognised as the ‘‘fittest city’’ in New Zealand.

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