For my book The 5 Factor World Diet, I traveled the globe and observed some of the food and fitness habits of the world’s healthiest nations, and learned a great deal. As one of the most overweight countries in the world, the United States could learn a few things from places like Japan, Sweden, France, Italy, Spain, and Greece, where more emphasis is placed on living a healthy lifestyle. Here are some of the best tips I picked up during my travels.
Walk Like a European
Many, if not most, of the healthiest nations I observed had one thing in common: they did a lot more walking. I’m not talking about planned walks, which are great too, but I’m referring to walking as a mode of transportation. They take more public transport, which means walking from bus stops or metro stations to their destination. They walk to and from the grocery store, and they walk to lunches and meetings. You see a gym on every corner here in the US, but we’re still fatter because we go without moving all day and think 30 minutes at the gym will be a cure-all. Do like the Spanish do and walk to work, church, or the doctor. Take a page from the French and walk to get your groceries every day.
Grocery Shop Daily
I know what you’re thinking, “Who has the time to go food shopping every day?” The answer: some of the healthiest cultures on the planet! If you’re smart about it, it doesn’t have to take that long and you’ll soon see the benefits. Daily shopping creates a strong connection with what you’re about to eat, and allows you to select the freshest, most seasonal produce. Plus, the added steps from a daily grocery trip can really add up!
“Passeggiata,” as the Italians Say
One of my favorite takeaways from my travels is the Italian custom of “passeggiata,” which is an after-dinner walk, and so much more. A passeggiata not only aids digestion and helps you get your steps in, but it’s a chance to reflect on your day and just enjoy your surroundings or the people you’re walking with—instead of just retreating to the TV room, or car, or computer. It’s a great way to unplug while being active.
Try a Two-Wheeled Commute
If you’ve ever been to Japan, you probably noticed the prevalence of bicycle riding. I’m not talking about cycling as a sport—I’m talking about man, child, and grandma all using bicycles to get around. Given their famous traffic gridlock problems, it’s no wonder why so many opt to pedal. Not only does bicycling take cars off the roads, which is great for both the environment and traffic, but it gets people moving. If you don’t have a long commute, try biking to work! A lot of people worry they’ll be too sweaty when they arrive, but you might be surprised by how easy it can be—and you’ll get in some great exercise, too!
This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for medical diagnosis or treatment. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or condition. Always check with your doctor before changing your diet, altering your sleep habits, taking supplements, or starting a new fitness routine.