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10 Lessons in Health & Wellness We Can Learn From Scandinavians
Aug 20, 2019

Reading time 6 min.

We know Scandinavians as the happiest people on Earth. Iceland, Denmark and Sweden have again ranked in the top 5 of the most livable countries on the planet. This extraordinary result is is provided by high life satisfaction, personal health, and social cohesion. To make our own lives better, happier and healthier, we can certainly learn something from the Scandinavian traditions. Below is a list of what you can do right now to improve your life.

1. Try Sauna

Going to the sauna is an integral part of Scandinavian culture. Visiting sauna conveys numerous health benefits as it flushes toxins out of your body and you start to sleep better, your cardiovascular performance is majorly improved. When enjoying the sauna, you sweat a lot and thus burn calories. It’s recommended to take a cold shower and hop into an ice bath for a little bit right after the sauna. Not only will you feel amazing, but also your pores will close and the body will start to conserve the heat - so your circulation will consequently boost.

2. Get To Work By Bicycle

Living in Scandinavia is impossible without exercise. It doesn’t necessarily mean that people go to the gym daily, instead exercise is incorporated well into their normal day-to-day activities. For example, almost 30% of urban population in Denmark and Sweden cycle daily to and from work. This should not be considered an extraordinary feat, as the average daily commute for most city dwellers is about 8 miles.

3. Walk

Office lifestyle can damage your health if you don’t move around. Simply walking can change it all. 50% of people in Sweden take long walks daily either as a way to reach their destination or simply for pleasure. It can be done at any age and in any physical condition and will bring massivehealth benefits.If normal walking sounds boring for you, tryNordic Walking.Coming from Finland, Nordic walking involves using theski poleswhile you walk so that your upper body also moves.

4. Join Sports Club

In Sweden, joining a team or a club usually happens early on and continues on well into retirement. Besides the benefits of regular exercise, committing to any team-based exercise considerably increases the chances of staying motivated and continuing to exercise for a long period of time.

5. Try Scandinavian Diet

People in the north of Europe traditionally consume a lot of fatty fish, rye bread, and root vegetables which have been shown to offer excellent health benefits. Nordic dishes tend to have fewer ingredients than their southern counterparts. Fish such as herring, mackerel, and trout are rich in protein, omega-3s, and antioxidants, while rich selections of root vegetables and low GI rye bread quell the appetite quickly. This reduces the risk of overeating, which is often the risk with other lighter cuisines.

6. Take Short Work Breaks

Average office productivity is closely tied to workers motivation and capability to focus. Focusing requires mental effort, and mental effort drains your energy reserves. Scandinavians are well have developed a tradition of short breaks during the work day. In Sweden this tradition is called Fika, or coffee break. Taking frequent short breaks while working helps you to stay motivated, boosts morale, and increases productivity when you return to your task. In the long run, taking regular breaks every 30-60 minutes creates less stress and increases work satisfaction.

7. Take a Vacation

Try to remember that you are not living to go to work every morning. This can be difficult for certain people, as modern society equates professional life with personal life. Of course, there is nothing wrong with being passionate about your profession, but you must remember to take time off regularly. Scandinavia has one the most generous holiday allowances in the world, stretching up to 5 weeks, compared to the U.S where the figure is about 9 days per year.

8. Try a Low Carb Diet

Scandinavian cuisine might not be everybody’s cup of tea. The fatty and often unappetizing foods associated with Nordic dishes – such as egg butter, fermented herring, and goose blood soup – might not make you run off searching for the nearest Nordic food store. However, the health benefits enjoyed by the Scandinavian diet can be enjoyed in other ways as well. Traditional Nordic cuisine is healthy because it is essentially a low carbohydrate, high protein diet.

9. Practice Danish Hygge

One of the reasons Denmark is considered among one of the happiest countries in which to live can be attributed to the Danish tradition of Hygge. Hygge has no direct translation in the English language but could be roughly translated into calm moments for yourself and others. A key element for surviving the long dark Danish winters, Hygge is used as a practice to give time for yourself, creating a space where you feel comfortable – whether be it curled up on a couch with a good book, or cooking dinner with good friends. The important thing to take away from the concept of Hygge is that whatever you do, it must be comfortable for yourself and considerate of others.

10. Embrace the Cold

Scandinavia, half covered in polar climate, is a place where temperatures can plummet to -22 degrees. The unforgiving weather, however, does not stop the Finns, Danes, and Swedes from being active. In Sweden, approximately 50% of the population partakes in regular cardiovascular activity during the long and grueling winter months. This form of training has been shown to have some very important health benefits. Exercising in cold weather burns more calories, strengthens further your heart, lungs and circulatory system, and helps to prevent SAD ( Seasonal Affective Disorder), which is far more common in winter.


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