Finland is the happiest country in the world. That wasn’t always so. For health, Finland used to have serious health issues across its population.
In the 1970s, Finland actually held the record for heart disease numbers around the world – even for its small population (about 4 million in the 1970s). What government agencies found after extensive research was that Finnish people engaged in “sedentary inactive” lifestyles and didn’t prioritize their health and well-being. The government took action with nationwide campaigns, programs, and initiatives to inspire and motivate the population to get their overall health and well-being back on track. Increasing activity and exercise, improving diets, and promoting a work-life balance they figured would improve the health of Finnish people.
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Today, that record-high heart disease rate in Finland is now a whopping 65-percent lower. The levels of activity and exercise have tripled. The net result is that this has 6improved the average lifespan of men and women in this Scandinavian nation by more than 7 years.
What is the Finnish secret to this? The government’s plans were not to educate people of the benefit of exercise and healthy lifestyles but were to motivate the people for action. Through government legislation, they encouraged mass exercising programs, healthier eating plans, and shaped the lifestyles of the Finnish people for the better of each individual. Tobacco advertising was banned. Food policies were altered: only low-fat milk was allowed to be manufactured and sold in Finland, meat products were changed from being advertised for its fat content to that of its protein content, and fruit was aggressively promoted by the government for a vitamin boost.
Finnish society has gotten its obesity problem under control, too. Fitness, health and wellness are now firm principles of Finnish culture. The average person spends 2 to 3 hours per week exercising. The government has also removed all obstacles to exercise, health and fitness activities: people can no longer make excuses for not being able to exercise or take care of their health. Exercise and sport are heavily subsidized by the government: the country boasts a large number of public swimming pools, public parks with exercise equipment, cycling and walking lanes fully lit for use even at night, and doctors even prescribe exercise as a treatment plan just as they as would medicine to improve a person’s condition.
What the Finns have found and proven is that weight loss should not be seen in isolation in terms of a healthy body and lifestyle. Instead, weight loss needs to be the result of a healthy lifestyle change. The Finns believe in a balanced diet. Nutrition plays an integral role in fuelling our bodies, and managing your body for work and exercise is an innate form of healthy people’s daily routines. Finnish enjoy their sports and exercise, exhibit good sleep habits, and prioritize health and fitness above work: they even schedule work around these activities.
It is easy when Finland has a beautiful setting that lends itself to outdoor living. However, you must remember that Finns experience winter for 7 or more months a year – and they still exercise outdoors throughout the year.