Lifestyle Wisdom from Around the Globe
How people in six countries, including Japan and the Netherlands, stay fit and feel good
From the LifeMinute.TV Team
January 25, 2024
Many countries have their own good-for-you secrets. Take some inspiration from these savvy lands with their simple methods to help add years to your life.
The French love their cheese, bread, and chocolate. How do they stay healthy and have one of the lowest rates of obesity in European countries? For one, they don’t deprive themselves of foods they love but enjoy smaller portions. Research shows that savoring a small bite of a desired food can be as satisfying as eating the whole thing. Try it. And instead of using judgmental words such as “cheat” or “splurge,” say “eat.”
Many Costa Ricans live with a sensation of purpose or a reason to live (known as plan de vida), where family, friends, and neighbors are considered the most important aspects of life. Research indicates this purpose can equate to up to seven years of extra lifespan. Costa Ricans also choose social circles that support healthy behaviors and faith-based communities that offer a sense of belonging. Try joining a local organization or rally friends with positive routines and behaviors.
Netherlanders may be stereotyped as being “on the go.” It could have something to do with riding their bikes—not just for leisure and running errands, but as their primary mode of transportation. On average, the Dutch pedal just under 2 miles per day. That amount of aerobic activity can offer benefits, including preventing and managing heart health. Consider cycling (or walking) to work a few times a week, running errands on your bike (or on foot), or going for a joy ride (or stroll) on the weekends. The idea is to live in a way that supports daily movement without thinking about it.
The Japanese keep food portions aesthetically appealing and pleasurably compact. And they chew mindfully. Slowing the speed at which you eat may make it easier to recognize when you're feeling satisfied or about 80 percent full. This lifestyle and Japanese diet, consisting of minimally processed foods such as rice, seafood, beans, veggies, and fruit, likely contribute to their longer life expectancy (an average of 84 years) compared to the global average age of 73.
A practice in Swedish culture, fika (meaning “coffee break”) makes socializing a priority. The idea is to pause from the workday to catch up and check in with friends, family, and colleagues. Most Swedes enjoy at least one fika a day. Studies have found that particularly women who have solid social connections are happier and healthier and may live longer.
India is known for its abundant use of various spices, which add flavor and can improve health. Consider incorporating ginger, coriander, and turmeric into your dishes. They contain major anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting properties.