Want to find out which city is best for running? Here’s the world top 10 cities

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Running and outdoor exercise have become extremely popular over the last few years, with global Google searches for ‘running’ increasing 22 per cent year-on-year.

With more people taking to the streets for their daily exercise, French performance footwear brand HOKA has published research into the external factors that may be impacting the runners’ physical health.

The brand reviewed seven key factors that can impact outdoor running and exercise such as air pollution, traffic CO2 emission data, the number of green spaces, walkability, average temperature, humidity levels and water quality, in order to find the top cities in the world to enjoy an active life.

Overall, Europe is the best continent for runners, according to the research, with eight of the top 10 cities situated on the continent, while Australia holds two places.

From air quality to road conditions, here are the world’s top 10 best cities to get fit and active running outdoors.

10. Copenhagen, Denmark – Just making it into the top ten is Copenhagen. Copenhagen is the city with the lowest amount of traffic CO2 emissions in the index – only 1,610 gr per return trip – and with the best Air IQ score of 0/100. Its low average temperature of 10C and its 79 per cent humidity level makes it a very good option for runners as long as they are prepared for cold and wet weather. 

9. Barcelona, Spain – This well-known Spanish city sits in the ninth position. Although green space is limited, this city is perfect for an urban run due to its 100/100 score for walkability and its low traffic CO2 emission (3,304 gr per return trip).

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If you are looking to add some resistance to your running routine, running up Mount Tibidabo will guarantee sore muscles but at the same time you will enjoy the magnificent view of the whole city of Barcelona and its coastline.

8. Sydney, Australia – In eighth position is the first of two Australian cities to make it into the index’s top 10, Sydney. With a walkability score of 100/100, its 17C temperature, and a very low humidity level of 57 per cent, Sydney and its stunning beaches such as Bondi or Marley Beach have runners wishing for free time to get those miles in.

7. Lisbon, Portugal – Lisbon sits in seventh position in the HOKA index. The capital of Portugal scores 99/100 for walkability and its average temperature of 18C makes running across its beautiful and colourful streets a next-level experience.

Running across the Alfama neighbourhood will transport you to the Romans and Moorish times – not only a beautiful sight to behold, but the high inclinations will also push your limits. 

6. Berlin, Germany – In sixth position is Berlin, one of the flattest cities in the world. The capital of Germany also has very low traffic CO2 emissions, only 2,419 gr per return trip, meaning better air quality for your run.

With its low average temperature of 11.5C and its 69 per cent humidity level, runners need to make sure to cover themselves to avoid skin damage when running across this historical and emblematic city.

5. Stockholm, Sweden – Entering the top five is Stockholm. With significantly low traffic CO2 emissions (2,377 gr per return trip) and a walkability score of 99/100, Stockholm is a wonderful setting for running. Its low average temperature of 10.5C and its high humidity (75 per cent) may mean that waterproof gear is recommended when running across this city and the 50 bridges that connect its 14 islands.

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4. Rome, Italy – In fourth top position is one of the most ancient cities on the globe – Rome. This food lovers’ paradise is also one of the best cities for runners with an average temperature of 17.5C, an air quality score of 12/100, and a walkability score of 99/100. Give your body an extra push by finishing your running session going up and down the stairs of Piazza di Spagna.

3. Melbourne, Australia – Making it into the top three is Melbourne. This city, also known as ‘The Sporting Capital of The World,’ scores 99/100 for walkability and has an average temperature of 17C. With a low humidity level (52 per cent) and a very high air quality score, this bayside location has the perfect conditions for running, including the Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria.

2. Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Spain – With 82 per cent of its land made up of green spaces and an average temperature of 22C, Santa Cruz de Tenerife sits in second position. Situated in the Canary Islands, Tenerife is a desert-like location. Recording 61 per cent humidity levels and a 65 per cent water quality level, runners will need to prepare bottled water for their run as dehydration may be possible though you can cool off afterwards with a plunge at one of the island’s many beaches, including Los Cristianos or Costa Adeje.

1. Vienna, Austria – Crowned as the best city for runners, Vienna scores 100/100 for walkability, making the running experience across the city very smooth as well as offering lots of green space. The Schönbrunn Palace gardens are accessible to the public to enjoy a more nature-feeling run, for instance.

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Vienna also has very low traffic CO2 emissions, 1,696 gr per return trip providing one of the lowest pollution levels in the top ten, second only to Copenhagen.

All the above therefore makes Vienna the city of runners’ dreams, though average temperatures of 13.5C and average humidity of 62 per cent mean your run is likely to be a wet one. 

Honorable mentions

Meanwhile, London is the only city in the UK to appear in the index, narrowly missing out a place in the top ten, in 11th position.

No American city ranked in the top 10, but the US is the country with the highest number of cities making it into the index’s top 40, with Denver placing highest at 12th position, followed by San Diego and New York in 15th and 16th positions.


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