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Ten reasons to HYGGE: ‘Hoo-ga’ is the Scandinavian lifestyle trend for ‘being cosy and content’. And yes, it will make you happier, fitter and slimmer!
1 GET OUT OF THAT GYM
Signe Johansen’s new book How To Hygge hails the Nordic people’s love of being in nature as the key to hygge, stating that ‘the outdoors is preferable to the gym every time’.
This is backed up by several studies which have found that those who exercise outdoors are more likely to keep up a consistent routine. Even walking outdoors compared to on a treadmill automatically increases the calorie burn by ten per cent, due to factors such as wind resistance.
2 CLEAR YOUR HEAD
Hunting is a popular pastime in Scandinavia, involving a long waiting game where an entire day can be spent sitting alone and completely still in the forest without even seeing an animal, simply breathing and concentrating. This is hygge, too: that feeling of being content, in nature, without breaking a sweat. Research has found that being in a park or forest environment lowers stress levels, increases energy, boosts self-esteem and makes you less angry.
3 THE JOY OF EXERCISE
The hygge view is that being physical – taking exercise – is enjoyable, not a chore. Signe Johansen points out that hygge is about the joy of sport as a group activity. She adds that, as numerous recent studies have proven, a sedentary lifestyle is far more dangerous to our health than being overweight or even smoking. My parents, who turn 60 next year, work out several times a week and go ice-skating, cross-country skiing and walking. Swedish men have a life expectancy of 80.7 years – ranked fourth in the world – with UK males at just 79.4. For women it’s 84 versus 83.
4 ENJOY A FAMILY MEAL
When dining hygge-style, it is ‘the kinship generated through conviviality at the table that really matters’, and the Scandinavians try their best to do sit-down family dinners every day of the week, not just for the Sunday roast. A full-time working week in Sweden is 37.5 hours, and while only one per cent of the country’s employees work overtime, they’re no less productive, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Better Life Index. Having a good work-life balance is key to protecting yourself against the harmful effects of stress.
5 DE-STRESS WITH COFFEE
Swedes drink the most coffee per person in the world, followed by Finland, due to the tradition of daily ‘fika’: a break to sit down, enjoy a hot drink and often a sweet pastry or a cinnamon bun. Johansen hails fika as ‘the essence of hygge’, calling it ‘a prime example of a balanced, Nordic philosophy of life’.
6 LOWER CHOLESTEROL
The Nordic diet was all the rage long before hygge hugged the nation, based on the staples of Scandinavian cuisine. A 2013 study found that following a ‘Nordic diet’ of whole-grain products such as Ryvita-style ‘knackebrod’, fish three times a week, root veg, berries, locally sourced fruits such as apples and plums and avoiding sugar-sweetened foods, lowered cholesterol.
7 EAT WHAT YOU LIKE
The mentality of ‘hygge’ means enjoying the good things in life without feeling guilty, including indulging in the food that makes you happy every now and then, be it bacon, beer or cinnamon buns.
Despite this, the proportion of adults in Sweden who are obese is 14 per cent, compared to the UK’s 27 per cent. Out of 34 OECD countries, the UK is the eighth fattest, with the Scandinavian nations way down the list in 23rd (Norway), 25th (Sweden) and 26th (Denmark) place.
8 …BUT IN MODERATION
The Scandinavians firmly believe in ‘lordagsgodis’ – Saturday Sweets – and allow children to have a small bag of pick-and-mix once a week. It’s ingrained in Scandinavians from childhood that you treat yourself on Saturdays, and then for the rest of the week, excess is off the table. Studies show a treat every now and then can make a person more likely to stick to a diet.
9 SING FOR YOUR SUPPER
Any Brit invited to a Swedish smorgasbord has either looked on in terror – or worse, been forced to join in – as everyone around the table raises their glasses of aquavit (a Scandinavian botanical spirit, like gin, but better) and begins to loudly sing a ‘snapsvisa’ – a drinking song. As Johansen points out in How To Hygge, a spirit of healthy hedonism reigns supreme in Nordic culture,
A 2013 study by scientists at Gothenburg University found that singing in unison has similar benefits to yoga. Researchers found that choristers’ heartbeats and breathing synchronise, which helped lung and heart health.
10 BOOST HAPPINESS
It’s a fact: Nordic nations are much happier than the rest. The latest OECD World Happiness Report put Denmark at No 1, Iceland in third, followed by Norway and Finland, way ahead of the UK at
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-3828609/Ten-reasons-HYGGE-Scandinavian-lifestyle-trend-cosy-content.html#ixzz4NGPUlfgB
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