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Manchester and Edinburgh head up fittest cities in the UK

February 24, 2023


New research1 from the Vitality American Express® Credit Card has revealed that Manchester and Edinburgh are the UK’s fittest cities. More than a quarter (26%) of respondents in Manchester exercise at least 4-5 times per week compared with Edinburgh close behind at 23%. This compares to a nationwide average of 17% exercising 4-5 times per week, with the most common response being 2-3 times per week nationally (25%) – or an average of 3.5 times a week. 

Cashback motivation  

When it comes to motivation for staying fit, almost half of Brits (46%) agree that earning cashback (for example getting money credited to their bank or credit card) would encourage them to exercise more.

Vitality American Express Cardmembers earn 0.5% cashback on purchases on their Card up to £10,000, then 1% after that2. New Cardmembers could earn an additional £100 statement credit, when they spend £2,000 in the first three months of Cardmembership.

On top of that, Cardmembers can earn cashback linked to how active they are. They can earn up to an additional £10 cashback monthly with the Vitality Cashback Booster, which tracks monthly activity points with Vitality before converting them into cashback. Assuming an average spend of £1,000 a month, this means a new Cardmember, exercising regularly, could earn up to £290 cashback in their first year. If Cardmembers have more than one qualifying plan, they can double their Vitality Cashback Booster and can earn up to an additional £20 monthly.

American Express and Vitality have created a UK cashback map showcasing the UK’s activity and fitness trends, as well as a calculator to show how much cashback can be earned through exercise. Both can be viewed here:



A nation of walkers

34% named hiking as one of their favourite ways to exercise. A nation of walkers, respondents took an average of 7,550 steps a day with a third (33%) choosing to exercise in rural areas.

Gym workouts take the silver medal for most popular exercise activities, 1 in 5 (20%) UK adults listed gym workouts as one of their top ways to workout. Leeds loves the gym the most, 82% of gym-goers in Leeds visit their gym twice a week, with 9% going every day.

 A team game in Glasgow, and Sheffield the combat fitness capital

Glasgow is the UK’s top city for team sports, over one-quarter (27%) included a team sport as one of their top ways to exercise. Football is the most popular team sport in the UK, just under one in ten (9%) named the beautiful game in their top five ways to exercise. Bristolians love a kickabout more than anyone else though, with 22% of respondents in Bristol playing football.

The social aspect of team sports is a big motivator for lots of Brits, 19% of those surveyed claimed socialising with friends and meeting new people were reasons to exercise. Birmingham tops the list in this regard, with 44% preferring to exercise with others.

Sheffield beat Bristol and Brighton to the punch as the UK’s boxing capital. It is home to more boxers than anywhere else in the UK, according to the research.

Mind over muscle

70% of London respondents practice mindfulness activities, making it the UK’s most mindful city. In the UK capital listening to music (34%) is the preferred way to practice mindfulness but breathing exercises (21%), yoga (20%) and mindful walking (16%) were also popular.

Caring for mental health is also a key reason why Brits exercise. Amongst respondents that exercise, almost half (46%) cite improving their mental health as a reason for exercising.

Caroline Bouvet, Vice President at American Express, comments: “The Vitality American Express Credit Card is a great way for Cardmembers to earn cashback on their spending and be rewarded for staying active at the same time. With almost half of Brits saying cashback would encourage them to exercise more, the Vitality American Express Credit Card could help Cardmembers stick to and even exceed their New Year’s resolutions.”

Nick Read, Managing Director of the Vitality Programme, comments: “The New Year is a great time to reset and think about your health and wellbeing goals and it’s really refreshing to see such a variety in the types of exercise people are doing – from hiking, to football, to heading to the gym. It’s particularly interesting to see the amount of Brits choosing to exercise together, which we know can strengthen relationships and community ties. Whichever activity you choose, getting more active does so much for both your mental and physical health.

“This all aligns with our core purpose, to help people live healthier and happier lives, and our partnership with American Express is just one of the many ways we are sharing the benefits of healthy living.”

The Vitality American Express Credit Card has a representative 39.3% APR variable. 18+. Terms Apply. Subject to status.


1Omnibus research was conducted by Opinium, 2000 UK adults were surveyed between 4 November and 8 November 2022.

 2Subject to minimum spend, eligibility criteria and approval. Visit Vitality.co.uk/rewards/partners/ for terms and conditions. Representative APR is correct as at 11/01/2023. Interest rates link to the Bank of England base rate. See amex.co.uk for details. Vitality Corporate Services Limited acts as a credit broker. Exclusive lender is American Express Services Europe Limited. American Express Services Europe Limited has its registered office at Belgrave House, 76 Buckingham Palace Road, London, SW1W 9AX, United Kingdom. It is registered in England and Wales with Company Number 1833139 and is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

 About Vitality 

Vitality is part of Discovery Limited, a worldwide insurer and investment manager impacting more than 30 million members in over 40 markets worldwide, across Europe, the United States, Australia, South Africa, Canada and China.     

Vitality pioneered the ‘shared-value’ insurance model, a unique approach based on the scientifically proven principles of behavioural economics. Through this model, Vitality helps members take a more active role in managing their own wellness, encouraging them to develop healthy long-term habits that are good for them, good for the company and good for society. The effect is positive for all stakeholders – members benefit from better health, financial rewards and additional incentives; employers benefit from healthier, more productive, and more engaged employees; and Vitality benefits from a healthier membership base.    

Vitality Ambassadors Jessica Ennis-Hill, Heather Knight, Tracey Neville, Ellie Simmonds, Jos Buttler, Maro Itoje, Joe Root and Jonny Wilkinson are role models who embody the company’s values. They use their passion for living a healthy, active lifestyle to motivate others to make positive changes, promoting the message that taking small steps today can dramatically improve wellbeing over the long-term.    

In the UK, Vitality operates as three distinct businesses: VitalityHealth, VitalityLife and VitalityCar employing more than 2000 people in London, Bournemouth and Stockport. 



Jack Calway


Nick Richardson


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