Hong Kong people walk more steps per day than anyone else, says Stanford study

People walking on footbridges in Central, the financial district of Hong Kong. Photo (for illustration): Myriam Tsen-Kung/Coconuts Media
People walking on footbridges in Central, the financial district of Hong Kong. Photo (for illustration): Myriam Tsen-Kung/Coconuts Media

Congratulations, guys – for once, Hong Kong has topped an international index for something other than being mind-bogglingly expensive! Apparently, on top of having one of the world’s longest average lifespans (all the better to pay rent with, my dear), Hongkongers are also walking more than everybody else.

According to a Stanford University study recently published in the science journal Nature, Hong Kong people walk an average of 6,880 steps a day, making us the most ambulatory populace out of the 46 territories and countries assessed. How many of those 6,880 steps are actually spent going around other people hogging valuable pavement space remains to be seen.

In second place with a daily step count of 6,189 is China, with fellow Coconuts city Singapore coming in ninth place with 5,674 steps a day (full list here). Ha! Eat our dust, Singapore.

(Sorry, that was mean – we’re just lashing out because they’ve surpassed us in so many other ways. What, who said that?)

These results are based on data taken from the accelerometer-equipped smartphones of 717,000 people in 111 countries over the course of 95 days. (If you’re wondering, the 46 places that ended up getting ranked were chosen because they had over 1,000 participants.) On top of step counts, researchers also looked at obesity rates, gender, and income.

Researchers found that people from places with low obesity rates tend to all walk a similar amount each day, while people from countries with a high obesity rates tend to either walk very little or a lot, a phenomenon which they dubbed “activity inequality”. Using the data available, the researchers calculated an “activity inequality” score for each of the 46 places they ranked, with lower scores indicating a better distribution of physical activity.

A map of the average daily step counts across all 46 assessed locations. Photo: Stanford

According to the paper, “individuals in the five countries with the highest activity inequality are 196% more likely to be obese than individuals from the 5 countries with the lowest activity inequality”, while a high activity inequality also corresponds to a larger gender gap for physical movement.

Hong Kong, with the lowest activity inequality score in the rankings (22.2), is correspondingly a compact and highly walkable city (well, you know that), where people of both sexes walk roughly the same amount, which is all great news… now let’s work on that wealth gap.


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