Maybe the Vikings just wanted to share their health secrets with the rest of the world. They were just over zealous in spreading the message.
Norway is consistently ranked amongst the world’s top ten healthiest countries and for good reason.
People typically enjoy a well-rounded lifestyle with a strong focus on healthy eating, exercise and quality time with family and friends.
Time for the rest of us to sit up and take note.
Buoyed by the production of natural resources such as oil, gas and hydro-power, Norway has a prosperous economy that provides an excellent standard of living.
The country has the world’s fourth highest income per capita and a universal healthcare system.
Well of course they’re healthy then, you might say.
However with such a robust economy and access to medical facilities the people could well decide to put their feet up and binge on Netflix and potato chips 24/7.
That would just be unNorwegian.
The basic concept of living healthily is instilled in the culture.
Norway makes full use of its access to the ocean and seafood is a major part of the diet, especially salmon. People eat fresh fish at least three times a week.
A conscious effort is made to eat whole grain foods and to stay away from fried and processed foods.
Bread is a staple but preference is given to wholegrains. Fresh fruit and vegetables are eaten several times a day with wild berries being a particular favorite. High in fiber, berries not only boost the immune system but fill the stomach.
Norway taxes foods high in sugar and the marketing of sugary snacks and fast food is highly self-regulated.
Not that it matters anyway because many Norwegians are fairly indifferent to the lure of junk food.
Having said that there has been a recent surge in popularity of pizza in any form and nothing wrong with that.
Would you trust someone who didn’t like pizza?
Norwegians are not surprisingly an active bunch. Not only do they enjoy a multitude of physical pastimes but they have ample time in which do to so.
Weekends are regarded as sacred – time to enjoy with your family and pals. Work is work and play is play. There is no glory in working on weekends or doing overtime.
Over 80% of Norwegians exercise at least twice a week. Outdoors activities such as skiing, jogging, walking and cycling are traditionally popular.
Strength training and gym classes are continually gaining in participants while soccer (oops – football), handball and tennis are enjoyed by men and women.
Over the last ten years the over 60s have really amped up their leisure time with brisk walking being a favorite.
Norway is a big hitter in winter sports and Olympics officials usually reserve at least one place on the medal podium for a Norwegian athlete.
Underlying it all is the Norwegian philosophy of healthy moderation. They are amongst the lowest consumers of alcohol in European countries. Meal portions are smaller than other Western countries and the concept of taking work home is blasphemous.
Being confined to the indoors during long winters doesn’t mean curling up despondently and counting the days to spring.
Pathetic! This is the chance for meaningful interaction with family and friends.
Long lunches, dinner parties, games. Make the most of it.
There’s even a word for it – koselig (koosh-lee). While there’s no direct English translation it basically means appreciating the coziness of life.
Balancing work and family life. Plenty of social connections. Enjoying good food and stretching the legs whenever possible.
Doesn’t sound too difficult, actually.
Embrace the koselig!