Healthy Finland Survey: Significant differences in work ability and physical functional capacity between cities

Publication date 24.4.2024 1.15
News item

There are major differences in many indicators of health and work ability between cities, confirms the Healthy Finland Survey.

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

The study found 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. 

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,” says Development Manager 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 continues. 

The number of people who feel incapacitated for work is lower than the national average in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area 

In the entire country, 20% of working-age people, i.e., 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.

Less than half of over 20-year-olds are sufficiently physically active

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.

One in ten working-age people have difficulties with running 100 metres

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%).

Municipalities and wellbeing services counties can affect residents’ health and well-being together

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,” says Development Manager Tapani Kauppinen. 

Versatile results for cities

THL has published versatile data on residents’ health, well-being and use of services in the cities included in the municipal survey. 

These results enable municipalities and wellbeing services counties to develop their services and to plan and target measures that support residents’ well-being.

The results have been collected in two stages:

  1. national survey data was collected between autumn 2022 and winter 2023, covering all wellbeing services counties
  2. data were also collected between autumn 2023 and winter 2024 from 10 cities that had ordered an additional sample. 


Aikuisväestön koettu hyvinvointi 10 kunnassa - Terve Suomi 2023 -tutkimuksen tuloksia. (in Finnish). Summarised from the study 20/2024 by THL.

Results of additional data collection in municipalities (in Finnish)

Results of the Healthy Finland Survey
Results nationally and by wellbeing services county.

More information:

Suvi Parikka
Development Manager, Principal Researcher
tel. +358 29 524 7959
[email protected]

Tapani Kauppinen
Development Manager
tel. +358 29 524 7053
[email protected]

Healthy Finland Survey

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