Singaporeans beat Malaysians at how much they walk – and data backs this up

Malaysians on average walked 3,963 steps daily, way below the global average of 5,000 steps. In comparison, Singaporeans walked 5,674 steps per day.

Are you guilty of calling a cab even when your destination is only a short walk away?

Living in the sweltering tropics means it’s so much easier to just use a ride-hailing app and spare the walk to the nearby mall or lunch spot.

That seems to be the conclusion many Malaysians have reached as well, according to a recent study conducted by American researchers from Stanford University.

Published in Nature, a scientific journal, anonymous data was gathered with smartphone tracking applications, Argus and Azumi, which provided researchers with the daily steps of more than 700,000 people in 111 countries worldwide.

According to the list, Indonesians appear to be the laziest people in the world when it comes to walking, taking an average of 3,513 steps per day – way below the global average of 5,000 steps.

Malaysians don’t appear to fare much better, coming in third from the bottom with an average of 3,963 daily steps, while other Asian countries topped the list.


Activity Inequality Project/ Tim Althoff

The report is part of a project titled “Large-Scale Physical Activity Data Reveal Worldwide Activity Inequality”, ranking 46 countries and cities by the average number of steps walked daily.


Folks in Hong Kong came in first, proving that they’re the world’s most active city with the population walking 6,880 steps daily, followed closely by China with 6,180 steps.

Singapore didn’t do too badly at 5,674 steps, placing it at the ninth spot on the list.

Activity inequality in relation to obesity levels

Contrary to popular belief, the study also found that the average number of steps walked had less of an impact on obesity levels than previously thought – it doesn’t mean that a country with the highest number of steps walked would have the lowest obesity levels.

What had a stronger correlation was the level of “activity inequality”, which the BBC describes as being similar to the concept of wealth inequality.

Except that this time, it’s the difference between the most and least active in a country, rather than richest and poorest.  

The study came to a conclusion that the bigger the level of activity inequality, the higher the rate of obesity.

Tim Althoff, a PhD candidate in computer science involved in the study, explained in a report by Stanford News using an example: “For instance, Sweden has one of the smallest gaps between activity rich and activity poor, and the smallest disparity between male and female steps.

“It also has one of the lowest rates of obesity.”

This claim is backed by findings from the study, which showed the US and Mexico having similar average step counts – 4,774 and 4,692 respectively – but stark differences in activity inequality and obesity levels.

Coincidence or scientifically proven fact? Whatever the case, it might do you good to get some exercise with more walking.