A new study by CIA Landlords has found that Southampton is the best city in the UK to raise a fit and active family.

Today, there is much more awareness than in times gone by about the benefits of leading a healthy and active lifestyle. It’s about convincing people of the upsides of getting fit and eating a balanced diet, and teaching them just how fun being active can be. It’s best to start them young and ensure your kids stay active and healthy. This awareness of healthy living can be spread through advice from GPs and trained medical professionals, health campaigns with children in schools, better access to leisure centres and community fitness programmes, and education.

When considering raising a family in an urban area, it’s wise to try to find a city which provides an ideal setting for your kids to follow an active lifestyle. CIA Landlord Insurance has analysed various factors to look into the best city in the UK to raise an active family. Aspects considered in this study contributing to an active lifestyle include access to green spaces such as parks and fields, local swimming pools, the number of athletics clubs nearby, and air quality.

Southampton ranks as the best city for active families

Southampton (UK) skyline.

It’s crucial to think carefully before moving to a new city with your family. Your top priority must be ensuring the health of your kids of course! So, why not move to an urban environment perfectly set up with lots of green space and tons of activities for your energetic family to take part in?

We took the 9 most populated cities in the UK and looked at which one was the best for active families. Southampton was the city that came out on top. Living somewhere full of amenities that is relatively pollution free with an abundance of lovely fresh air, like Southampton, is a blessing! After all, nobody wants their family to go through the adverse effects and unpleasantness of inhaling toxic fumes whenever they go outside.

Newcastle-upon-Tyne is the second-best UK city for active families

The city of Newcastle in the northeast of England came in 2nd place as the next best city to live in for active families. The city also managed to get 2nd place ahead of Sheffield for the number of athletics clubs for residents, 3rd just behind Glasgow and Manchester for the best access to green space and 3rd for best air quality! So, the toon is also a pretty good place to live and raise an active-minded fit family.

The table below shows our list of the best cities in the UK to raise an active family.

Rank City Access to green space index score Athletics clubs/run together groups per capita Swimming pools per capita Air Quality rating (0-500)
      1 Southampton 294 0.00007307692 0.00014624505 10
      2 Newcastle 1064 0.00007 0.00009 22.3
      3 Manchester 522,000 0.0000440613 0.00008876811 31
      4 Glasgow 3710 0.00003307086 0.00007244094 19.7
      5 Liverpool 579 0.00003636363 0.00008080808 20
      6 Leeds 217.5 0.00004457364 0.00005585585 16.6
      7 Sheffield 498 0.0000647482 0.00005765765 23.5
      8 London 935.8 0.00000988669 0.00011976047 43.5
      9 Birmingham 1053.1 0.00001484716 0.00003493449 36.7

*Note – Access to green space index score was calculated using the total population of a city and dividing it by the number of residents not living within a 10-minute walk of green space. So, the higher the score, the better access residents in that city have to green spaces within a 10-minute walking distance.

Manchester’s residents enjoy the best access to green space

Are you a family who loves sports and exercising in natural green spaces on your doorstep? CIA Landlord Insurance carried out a study into UK cities with the best access to green space. Manchester came in 1st place for access to green spaces receiving a perfect score, meaning no residents living in areas under Manchester City Council are more than a 10-minute walk away from green spaces. So, Manchester is a great place to raise a fit and healthy family who are passionate about exercising outdoors. Our survey used data from the 2022 Green Space Index conducted by the Fields in Trust conservation charity as an annual barometer of park and green space provision in Great Britain.

Are your family mad about cycling? If so, then you will also be excited to learn that Manchester is home to the national cycling centre – the Manchester Velodrome Arena. This epic venue has an Olympic standard indoor cycling track and a capacity of 3,500. Who knows, maybe your kids could be riding around it representing their country one day!

Glasgow and Newcastle respectively came in 2nd and 3rd place as the UK cities where residents enjoy the next best access to green spaces. Therefore, the stereotypes aren’t true, it isn’t grim living up north!

Rank City Access to green spaces for residents index score
                    1 Manchester 522,000
                    2 Glasgow 3710
                    3 Newcastle 1064
                    4 Birmingham 1053.1
                    5 London 935.8
                    6 Liverpool 579
                    7 Sheffield 498
                      8 Southampton 294
                      9 Leeds 217.5

London’s swimming pools boast impressive buildings

London is a breathtaking cosmopolitan metropolis that welcomes millions of visitors every year.

London can also be a great city for active families and residents, with many splendorous parks, sports facilities, stadia, and so on. The 2012 Olympic Games were a spectacular showcase for the capital and its sporting prowess.

Do you have eager swimmers in your family? In the CIA research, London came in 2nd place behind Southampton as the city with the most swimming pools for its population size. If you’re raising a family in London, you can visit public swimming baths with amazing settings in historic listed buildings with your kids. There is even the option of outdoor swimming at iconic Lidos from the victorian era in places like Brockwell and London Fields.

Rank City Swimming pools per capita
                    1 Southampton 0.00014624505
                    2 London 0.00011976047
                    3 Newcastle 0.00009
                    4 Manchester 0.00008876811
                    5 Liverpool 0.00008080808
                    6 Glasgow 0.00007244094
                    7 Sheffield 0.00005765765
                    8 Leeds 0.00005585585
                    9 Birmingham 0.00003493449

For keen runners, Southampton again is the place to be!

Integrating running/jogging around your local area into your daily life is a great way to stay fit living in a city. Since lockdown, running has become a popular hobby in this country, with people of all ages giving it a shot! So, why not get fit and be sociable at the same time by joining an athletics club or a run-together group? It doesn’t have to be something you take super seriously that takes over your life. You can start by going for a 5 or 10-km run once a week and seeing how you get on. Cities can be lonely places, so making new friends at a running group or club may be what you and your family need.

In the CIA Landlord Insurance study into the city with the most athletics clubs and run-together groups, Southampton came out the winner. That said, there are plenty of wonderful athletics clubs and running groups dotted around cities across the UK that families can join. Wherever you live, going out for a run in the local area and mixing with others in a club or group is much better than your family sitting around on the sofa all day playing video games!

Southampton has the best air quality, and London has the poorest

Exposure to air pollution can affect your family’s health. When we breathe in polluted air, it can enter our bloodstream and cause coughing, itchy eyes, lung diseases and even cancers. So, try finding a city to live in which has great air quality!

You want to raise your family in a city with the best possible air quality to keep them fit and healthy and able to go outside and exercise as young people should. Doing fun family activities and exercising outdoors without excessive pollution getting the way is fun and healthy. The air quality index of 0-500 gives us a measure of how polluted a city is, and an AQI value of over 300 is hazardous air quality. In our research, using an average from readings recorded in the inner city and suburban areas, we discovered that Southampton had the best air quality of the UK cities we looked into, with a rating of just 10.

The table below reveals the air quality rating of the 9 UK cities we selected.

Rank City Air Quality rating
                     1 Southampton 10
                      2 Leeds 16.6
                      3 Glasgow 19.7
                      4 Liverpool 20
                      5 Newcastle 22.3
                      6 Sheffield 23.5
                      7 Manchester 31
                      8 Birmingham 36.7
                      9 London 43.5


In order to reveal the best city to raise an active family in the UK, we took statistics from the 9 most populated UK cities (the number of residents in the council’s local authority area). We included metrics such as green space provision per person, total green space provision, the number of residents without access to green space within a 10-minute walk, the number of athletics clubs and swimming pools, and urban pollution ratings. The cities were ranked according to these metrics to tell us the best location for raising an active family.


Here are the sources which provided the data we used for our study on the best UK city to raise an active family.






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