Residents in Espoo, Kauniainen, Helsinki, and Oulu Crush the Work Game in Finland

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Work ability among Espoo, Kauniainen, Helsinki, Oulu residents top in Finland

There are major differences in many indicators of health and work ability between cities, according to a study conducted by the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL).

The Healthy Finland Study showed that there are clear differences between these cities in perceived work ability, physical functional capacity and the realisation of the recommendation on health-enhancing physical activity, said THL in a press release referring to the study on Wednesday.

Ten cities participated in the Healthy Finland municipal survey. The cities are Espoo, Helsinki, Kaarina, Kauniainen, Kuopio, Nokia, Oulu, Rovaniemi, Salo and Turku.

The share of people who feel incapacitated for work is the smallest in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area. Physical functional capacity is best in Espoo, Kauniainen, Helsinki and Oulu.

“The age structure of the population or the level of education or income may affect the differences between cities, but they do not explain all differences. We need more research on the factors behind the differences,” said Development Manager of THL Suvi Parikka.

“Significant regional differences are a major problem both from the perspective of the equality objective of welfare and the health, functional capacity and work ability of the entire population. Municipalities and wellbeing services counties have a great opportunity to influence these phenomena”, Parikka said.

In the entire country, 20% of working-age people, those aged 20–64, feel that they are completely or partially incapable for work.

When comparing the ten cities, the share of people who feel they are fully or partly unable to work is the greatest in Rovaniemi and Kuopio (27% in both).

The share of people who feel incapacitated for work is the smallest in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area; 17% feel incapable for work in Espoo and Helsinki and 14% in Kauniainen.

In the entire country, less than half of those aged 20 or over are active enough to meet the recommendation on health-enhancing physical activity: 46% of men and 38% of women.

In Kauniainen, Oulu, Espoo and Helsinki, one in two over 20-year-old exercises in accordance with the recommendation for health-enhancing physical activity. On the other hand, those in Salo and Turku exercise less than the national average: in Salo, 37% and in Turku, 41% exercise according to the recommendations.

The recommendation for health-enhancing physical activity covers physical activity at work, on the way to and from work, and during free time. The recommendation is met by engaging in weekly physical activity that raises the heart rate for at least 2 hours and 30 minutes or in weekly vigorous physical activity for at least 1 hour and 15 minutes, and maintains muscle strength and movement control at least twice a week.

In the entire country, one in ten working-age people have great difficulties in running 100 metres. 11% of women and 8% of men find it difficult to run 100 metres.

When comparing the cities, the 100-metre run is the most difficult in Salo, where 18% of under 75-year-olds find it difficult. Espoo, Kauniainen, Oulu and Helsinki have the least difficulties with running (less than 10%).

Municipal vitality and residents’ well-being are strongly interlinked. The aim is to ensure that all residents are able to work and function for as long as possible.

“Welfare and health promotion is most effective when all administrative branches of the municipality and the wellbeing services county as well as other actors, such as the private and third sectors, cross boundaries and promote the residents’ well-being in a similar manner. This work requires jointly prepared goals, actions and monitoring,” said Development Manager Tapani Kauppinen.

The results have been collected in two stages: national survey data was collected between autumn 2022 and winter 2023, covering all wellbeing services counties data were also collected between autumn 2023 and winter 2024 from 10 cities that had ordered an additional sample.


  1. MaggieJohnson says

    As an Oulu resident, I can attest to the high work ability within the city. The results of the Healthy Finland Study are not surprising to me. It’s promising to see that physical functional capacity is top-notch here.

  2. SarahSmith86 says

    Do you think the differences in work ability and health indicators between cities could be attributed to environmental factors or lifestyle choices?

    1. DavidJones78 says

      Hey SarahSmith86, it’s possible that environmental factors and lifestyle choices play a role in the differences seen in work ability and health indicators between cities. Factors such as air quality, access to healthcare, public spaces for physical activity, and community initiatives promoting healthy lifestyles could contribute to these variations. It would be interesting to see further research examining these aspects. What do you think?

      1. EmilyJohnson92 says

        Hey DavidJones78, I completely agree with you that environmental factors and lifestyle choices can indeed impact work ability and health indicators in different cities. Factors like air quality, healthcare accessibility, public spaces for physical activity, and community health initiatives can all play a significant role. Further research into these aspects could provide valuable insights. Thanks for bringing up this important point.

  3. Sarah84 says

    Are there any specific initiatives being planned to address the differences in work ability between cities highlighted in the study?

    1. David92 says

      Yes, there are specific initiatives in the pipeline to tackle the disparities in work ability between cities mentioned in the study. The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) is working on targeted programs to address these issues and improve overall work capacity and health outcomes in different regions. Stay tuned for updates!

  4. NatalieJohnson says

    As a resident of Espoo, I am not surprised by the findings of this study. The differences in work ability and health indicators between cities in Finland have been apparent in my own experiences. It’s clear that more research is needed to understand the factors behind these disparities. The well-being services within municipalities have a crucial role to play in addressing these regional differences for the benefit of the entire population.

  5. AlexJohnson92 says

    Are there any specific recommendations provided in the study to help address the regional differences in work ability and health in these cities?

  6. Emily88 says

    As a resident in Helsinki, I can attest to the positive impact of our city’s focus on work-life balance and health. It’s great to see initiatives like this study shedding light on the disparities between cities and the importance of well-being in the workplace.

  7. EmmaSmith_87 says

    As an Espoo resident, I can attest to the thriving work culture in our city. It’s no surprise that our physical functional capacity ranks among the best in Finland. However, regional disparities in health indicators highlight the need for further research and action. Suvi Parikka’s insights shed light on the importance of addressing these issues for the well-being of all residents.

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