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The UK's Healthiest Cities: Lockdown Review

The Health & Wellness Status of UK Cities

The coronavirus pandemic is no doubt having a toll on our collective health and wellbeing. Whether it’s higher levels of stress and anxiety, the struggles of working from home or closed gyms limiting our exercise options, right now it’s hard to look after ourselves as we’ve always done.

To gain an understanding of how we’re dealing with the effects of the lockdown, we decided to take a look at some of the biggest lockdown trends in health and wellness to see which cities are coping the best.

By analysing trends in exercise, wellness and healthy eating, we’ve ranked the UK’s 30 most populous cities in each category and overall to determine where we’re feeling the strains of lockdown the most and the least.

Healthiest Cities - Overview

When considering all the elements we studied, these are the 10 healthies cities in the UK right now.

Ranking City Exercise Wellness Healthy Eating
1 Bristol 1 1 3
2 Edinburgh 2 5 4
3 Liverpool 9 2 1
4 Glasgow 5 4 5
5 Peterborough 6 8 2
6 Coventry 12 3 4
7 London 3 5 13
8 Leicester 12 6 9
9 Belfast 8 9 12
10 Newcastle 9 6 15

Bristol was top of the board for both exercise and wellness terms, while Liverpool only came out first for healthy eating terms, pushing it down to third place.

Interestingly, neighbouring cities Glasgow and Edinburgh – the only cities from Scotland surveyed – both landed in the top 5.

Exercise - Bristol Takes the Lead

We analysed four terms relating to some of the most dominant trends in lockdown fitness: “yoga”, “hiit/high intensity interval training”, “resistance bands” and “running”. We then determined the number of impressions per 10,000 people in each city to ensure a fair distribution across cities of different sizes.

  • Bristol are miles ahead in almost every exercise category we examined. However, Edinburgh takes the crown as yoga capital of Britain.
  • While York and London scored low for Resistance Bands, their higher scores elsewhere helped keep them in the top 5.
Ranking City Yoga HIIT Running Resistance Bands
1 Bristol 2 1 1 1
2 Edinburgh 1 3 2 13
3 London 3 4 7 22
4 York 4 8 4 18
5 Glasgow 12 10 3 4

Self-care Specialists - Bristol Wins Again

The four lockdown wellness terms we analysed were: “meditation”, “mindfulness”, “gardening” and “how to deal with anxiety”. We included the latter as we feel this shows an approach by residents of each city to positively react to negative mental health experiences.

  • Bristol took the lead in this category again but Coventry came first for mindfulness.
  • Newcastle held first place for dealing with anxiety Wolverhampton for gardening and Belfast for meditation, despite none of them placing in the top 5 overall.
Ranking City Meditation Mindfulness Gardening Dealing with Anxiety
1 Bristol 3 2 5 4
2 Liverpool 4 6 9 2
3 Coventry 14 1 7 6
4 Glasgow 7 5 11 11
5 Edinburgh 8 7 16 9

Healthy Eating Experts - Liverpool Loves a Diet

We focused on four diet-based key trends for our healthy eating analysis: “plant-based diet”, “keto diet”, “low-carb diet” and “paleo diet”. We chose these terms to give an indication of which cities are consciously making changes to their diets during lockdown.

  • Liverpool took the lead in 3 out of 4 of our diet-based categories, proving itself as the undisputed healthy eating champion of the UK.
  • Though second-place Peterborough also ranked second for Paleo searches, it was Sheffield (which placed 9th in healthy eating) that had the highest level of interest in the Paleo diet.
Ranking City Low-carb Diet Keto Diet Paleo Diet Plant-based Diet
1 Liverpool 1 1 6 1
2 Peterborough 8 4 2 2
3 Bristol 2 2 4 9
4 Coventry 11 8 5 6
4 Edinburgh 14 10 3 5

Full Dataset

Ranking City Population Yoga HIIT Resistance Bands Running Meditation Mindfulness Gardening How to Deal with Anxiety Plant-based Diet Keto Diet Low-carb Diet Paleo Diet
1 Bristol 463,400 2 1 1 1 3 2 5 4 9 2 2 4
2 Edinburgh 488,050 1 3 13 2 8 7 16 9 5 10 14 3
3 Liverpool 498,042 6 18 3 5 4 6 9 2 1 1 1 6
4 Glasgow 633,120 12 10 4 3 7 5 11 11 8 3 4 11
5 Peterborough 202,110 9 5 6 14 6 9 2 17 2 4 8 2
6 Coventry 316,915 18 6 14 12 14 1 7 6 6 8 11 5
7 London 8,908,081 3 4 22 7 2 4 19 14 14 17 21 8
8 Leicester 348,300 10 9 5 20 15 16 8 3 4 15 15 12
9 Belfast 341,877 15 9 7 6 1 3 6 25 15 9 13 15
10 Newcastle 302,820 13 7 2 15 18 13 14 1 7 11 9 26
11 Wolverhampton 263,357 19 12 8 22 12 12 1 20 10 12 6 10
12 Kingston upon Hull 260,645 20 21 15 21 10 14 18 12 3 5 7 14
12 Manchester 547,627 8 13 9 13 16 10 20 13 13 12 16 9
13 York 208,200 4 8 18 4 5 19 12 15 23 21 24 22
14 Birmingham 1,141,816 23 16 12 23 20 8 10 5 12 14 12 18
14 Plymouth 262,100 17 2 11 9 17 17 13 19 16 6 3 24
14 Portsmouth 238,800 7 23 16 16 26 15 4 7 22 13 10 7
15 Derby 248,700 11 17 10 11 9 18 17 18 21 7 18 12
15 Sheffield 584,853 21 19 17 10 25 25 17 10 11 16 17 1
15 Stoke on Trent 270,726 24 14 19 25 11 20 3 8 19 18 5 25
16 Brighton 290,885 5 11 25 8 13 22 21 22 15 24 25 17
17 Leeds 793,139 16 22 20 17 19 21 22 10 24 22 20 23
18 Nottingham 329,200 22 15 24 24 21 11 15 21 18 20 19 19
19 Southampton 253,651 14 24 26 19 19 24 25 24 17 23 22 16
20 Sunderland 277,417 25 25 21 18 22 23 24 16 20 19 23 27
21 Wakefield 345,038 29 19 29 30 29 29 29 29 26 27 30 13
22 Salford 254,408 27 20 23 26 23 27 26 26 27 25 26 26
23 Bradford 529,870 26 26 27 29 28 28 28 23 25 26 27 20
24 Cardiff 364,248 28 27 28 27 24 26 27 28 28 28 29 21
25 Swansea 241,300 30 27 30 28 27 30 23 27 29 29 28 27

Methodology

We chose common trends in fitness, wellness and healthy eating to track the health of cities in body and soul.

We used Google Keyword Planner forecast data for the month of June 2020 to get an impression of how UK health is being affected by lockdown. Keyword Planner forecasts search interest in different topics relative to interest in previous months and Y-O-Y trends.

Within each category (exercise, wellness, healthy eating), we selected four key lockdown trends and weighted the terms by popularity, for example, resistance bands were the most popular exercise trend while HIIT was the least. 

For each category, we calculated the average ranking to determine the best performers individually before averaging the rankings to find the leading cities overall.

We found data on the top 30 most populous British cities based on their latest census figures on Wikipedia.

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