In an impressive show of commitment to public health, Amsterdam and Vienna have been announced as global leaders by tying for the title of the world’s healthiest cities. With a remarkable 78% overall healthy living percentage, both Amsterdam and Vienna sit clearly above third place Geneva and set the standard for what it means to have a thriving and healthy city.
The key factors that were looked at to determine each city’s score included the obesity level of adults, average life expectancy, and the quality of the air. Even things like the costs of a gym membership, green space availability, and simply how happy residents felt were all taken into account.
The Role of Accessibility and Infrastructure
A big part of the success of Amsterdam and Vienna is due to all the thought that has gone into the design of these cities, making sure that the infrastructure is both accessible and of high quality. Efficient public transport systems are one good example, leading to lower air pollution and vehicle emissions, as well as more interaction among people.
In addition, the huge number of bike lanes across Amsterdam is not just about promoting an active lifestyle. Instead, it is a key part of the city’s identity, and a culture of cycling can both limit road congestion and improve air quality levels. In Vienna, similar strides have been made with pedestrian zones that intertwine through scenic routes, to encourage walking as a daily routine.
The accessibility and location choice of important infrastructure is a big part of this, too. When travellers look for flights to Amsterdam via Opodo, they’ll be spoilt for choice, with direct flights available via Emirates, United Airlines, British Airways, and many more. They’ll also be pleased to know that Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport is just a short 15-minute train ride from the city centre, a further example of the thoughtfulness that went into the design and planning of the city’s infrastructure.
The Winning Formula of Amsterdam and Vienna
Given that all cities are built with residents in mind, what sets Amsterdam and Vienna apart from all the rest outside of infrastructure and accessibility? One of the reasons is that in addition to exceptional healthcare systems, both cities promote lifestyles that lead to longevity. As discussed in this article from Euronews, the strong cycling culture in the Netherlands has greatly impacted the health of people living in cities like Amsterdam. Residents are encouraged to travel by bike instead of car, and this alone contributes significantly to lower obesity rates in contrast to cities with less active populations.
In Vienna, urban planning has prioritised public spaces where people can unwind and socialise, something that is non-negotiable when it comes to mental health and wellbeing. The city has an abundance of parks and other recreational areas where exercise and socialisation are easy, and they even serve as communal hubs that can help to strengthen local communities.
There are many reasons why Amsterdam and Vienna stand out as the world’s healthiest cities. They both have outstanding accessibility, comprehensive infrastructure, and a strong emphasis on public well-being. For the cities that want to see themselves shoot up the rankings of these types of lists in the future, many lessons can be learnt from Amsterdam and Vienna.