Active Citizens Worldwide network highlights links between physical activity and social capital in cities across the globe

by Aktive
Published on Monday 14 October, 2019
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Physical activity and sport are directly contributing to happiness, levels of trust and mental wellbeing in cities across the world, according to a new report from the Active Citizens Worldwide network.


A global initiative established to help cities across the world achieve a step-change in physical activity levels for their citizens, Active Citizens Worldwide uses data and analytics to provide policymakers with increased knowledge and insight to help transform physical activity within their cities.


The findings, which draw on research and analysis from the cities of Auckland, London, Singapore and Stockholm conducted by leading global management consultancy, Portas Consulting, form part of the second Active Citizens Worldwide annual report.


The 2018 Active Citizens Worldwide report started to quantify the positive impact of sport and physical activity on individuals’ health and wellbeing. It showed that this impact extends beyond individuals, to communities and society more broadly, helping to mitigate some of the growing social challenges faced by cities. However, participation in physical activity is in part driven by money, time and access – and hence the benefits of sport and physical activity are not shared equally. Unaddressed, this will only contribute to a widening of social inequality.


Now in its second year, Active Citizens Worldwide has gathered compelling evidence from its four member cities that sheds light on the complex systemic interplay between socio-economics, demographics, policy and physical activity. This growth in understanding stands to enable cities to better enable all parts of society to participation in sport and physical activity and, in doing so, to create happier, healthier and wealthier cities.


Across the four cities, key findings from the second Active Citizens Worldwide report include:


Physical activity makes individuals happier and healthier, with significant wider benefits to the city:

  • Physically active individuals report that they are 6% happier, 28% more trusting of community, report 6% higher life satisfaction, and 14% lower psychological distress levels
  • Physical activity contributes an estimated US$14bn to the economy across Auckland, London, Singapore and Stockholm combined generating $1.6bn in healthcare savings and US$0.5bn in productivity savings.


However, sport and physical activity reflects social inequalities; across all 4 Active Citizens Worldwide cities, socio-demographic trends highlighted last year have been confirmed:

  • Well-off individuals are up to 1.7 times more likely to be active than those worse off
  • Men are more likely to be active than women
  • Inequality is often exacerbated by age – well-off individuals aged 25-49 are almost twice as likely to be active than those less well-off of the same age in Auckland.


Access to facilities plays a key role in addressing these inequalities:

  • In London and Singapore, there is a clear relationship between the availability of public facilities and levels of physical activity among the least well-off
  • Across all cities, access to facilities is related to activity – with more active areas on average having up to 2.5x more facilities (public and private) than less active areas


In addition, specific Auckland findings include:

  • Physically active individuals in Auckland report higher levels of life satisfaction
  • Ethnic groups (Pacific and Asian peoples) with lower levels of physical activity in Auckland actually show higher levels of motivation to be active than other groups.


The report also shows that each physically active individual generates an average of US$1,900 in social value in a city in the Active Citizens Worldwide network.


Nicola Gamble, Insights Manager – Aktive – Auckland Sport & Recreation, said: The Active Citizens Worldwide Annual Report and Conference gives us the opportunity to work with, share ideas and learn from other cities as we all strive to address the growing global issue of inactivity. Active Citizens Worldwide has helped us use the data we have better, and to fill gaps in our knowledge so that we can advocate more effectively and encourage more evidence-based decision making and investment for Auckland.”


Tim Copley, Director of Insight, Technology & Data – London Sport, said: This year’s Active Citizens Worldwide Annual Report shows clearly the significant positive impact physical activity is having, not only here in London, but in cities in all parts of the world. Physical activity and sport offer a clear opportunity to improve people’s lives, but it is vital that we work purposefully to ensure that people from every background and of every age are able to enjoy its many lifelong benefits.”


Muhammad Rostam Bin Umar, Chief, Strategy Group – Sport Singapore, said: “Our participation in Active Citizens Worldwide has given us a common language with our colleagues in the health, economic and social sectors as we discuss the design and contribution of sport and physical activity, as well as a common platform to benchmark and learn from the network of participating cities.”


Peter Ahlström, Chief of Staff – Stockholm Stad Sports Administration, said: “Innovation and development are keywords for the city of Stockholm to better meet the needs of the citizens. When resources and space are limited it is crucial to know how to create the highest value. The Active Citizens Worldwide initiative is a great way to use global knowledge for local achievements starting with this year’s Annual Report.


The Active Citizens Worldwide annual report can be found at


More information on the initiative can be found at



About Aktive – Auckland Sport & Recreation

Aktive is a charitable trust that has been established to make Auckland the world’s most active city. It is a key strategic partner of Sport NZ, Auckland Council and major grant makers and funders. Aktive invests more than $10m per annum in a range of delivery partners, organisations and projects that will get more people ​actively recreating and playing sport in Auckland, with focuses on young people and priority communities. For more information visit


About London Sport

Established in 2014, London Sport is a strategic body aiming to make London the most physically active city in the world. Supported by the Mayor of London, Sport England and London Councils, the agency’s work focuses on enabling more Londoners of all backgrounds to live and enjoy the benefits of active lives.

For more information on London Sport, visit


About SportSG

As the national sports agency, Sport Singapore’s core purpose is to inspire the Singapore spirit and transform Singapore through sport. Through innovative, fun and meaningful sporting experiences, our mission is to reach out and serve communities across Singapore with passion and pride. With Vision 2030 – Singapore’s sports master plan, our mandate goes beyond winning medals. Sport Singapore uses sport to create greater sporting opportunities and access, more inclusivity and integration as well as broader development of capabilities. At Sport Singapore, we work with a vast network of public-private-people sector partners for individuals to live better through sports.

To find out more, visit our websites and


About Stockholms Stad

Stockholm’s Sports Department aims to open the city as an arena and offer its residents a great variety of sports and exercise opportunities for a more active lifestyle. Our vision is a Stockholm where everyone wants and can be active. We specifically focus on the groups we have found to be among the least active: teenagers, especially girls; girls 10-20 years with foreign background; persons with disabilities from 7 years and young people 10-20 years from lower socio-economic background.


For additional information, comment or interview opportunities contact:


Christopher Scott, Head of Corporate Communications, London Sport | +44 (0) 203 848 4630



Jo Redfern, Communications & Marketing Manager, Aktive – Auckland Sport & Recreation | +64 (0) 21 241 5678



Rachel Ang, Public Relations, Sport Singapore | +65 6500 5217



Camilla Hagman, Communications manager – Stockholms stad Sports Department | +46 761 227 617