Posted by Oliver Meredew on February 22nd, 2018.
If you want to get fit and healthy, a good attitude and firm resolve is important, but so are your surroundings. Some places in the world are healthier than others so to get the best shot at getting fit and healthy why not consider a move to one of the world’s most active countries?
There are plenty of nations across the world vying for the title of ‘most active’, so we’ll be looking at where they are and why they might be good for those looking to get fit.
Beginning in the Far East, there are several countries in Asia that are considered more active than most.
A small place that aims big, the island city state of Singapore is a great start on the journey to a better you; as a case in point, the average life expectancy is a touch over 84 years.
While it can be expensive to live in Singapore, the country has delicious street food and also boasts a well-established cycle network.
For those looking beyond the horizon, there’s also the option of sailing along the coastline; a smaller craft will provide more of a workout as you scramble around the rigging!
Also in Asia, host of the 2020 Olympic Games, Japan is appropriately known as a good place to live for those seeking healthier lifestyles.
The Japanese diet is rich in fish and natural, unprocessed foods, which could be part of the reason why life expectancy there often comes out top in international comparisons.
In the run-up to the Olympics, the Japanese authorities have been doing their best to promote physical activity by integrating cycling into city-living, along with other plans.
Heading west, we find Hong Kong, which has been ranked highly on a Stamford University research project measuring the average number of steps taken each day by citizens.
Hong Kong’s residents took an impressive 7,000 steps a day in the study.
While the packed city has plenty to interest newcomers, the land surrounding Hong Kong is also good for cardio-boosting hiking and trail running.
Interestingly, Stamford University’s research placed China as a whole as one of the most active countries, with citizens averaging over 6,000 steps a day.
Although China frequently ranks highly on rankings of the world’s most active countries, this accolade is worth bearing with a pinch of salt.
Chinese citizens may take a lot of steps each day, but cities in China aren’t renowned for their healthy conditions.
Ubiquitous smog and poor air quality come with the territory in some of China’s most industrialised cities, so it’s worth considering moving to the countryside if you really want to benefit from living in China.
Outside of the urban greyness, the Chinese landscape features forested mountains, extensive hiking trails and the ultimate walking route, the Great Wall of China.
Heading off to mainland Europe, the continent has a number of healthy countries to tempt wannabe health nuts.
Based on data published by activity tracking company Fitbit, Spain is one of the most active nations among its users.
A 2017 publication put the most active Spanish citizens averaging over 9,000 steps a day, although compared to Stamford University’s test these were dedicated fitness fanatics, not ‘regular’ citizens.
Even regular Spaniards are considered healthier than a number of their international peers, however, with the average life expectancy in Spain exceeding 83 years.
Another top-scorer on the Fitbit step index is Sweden, with an average among users of over 8,850 steps a day.
There are plenty of well-used gyms across Sweden too, with seven out of ten Swedes reporting being regularly active in one.
Another health boost for those moving to Sweden is the fact that the country has some of the lowest smoking rates in Europe, which is especially impressive given the previously high levels.
With so many patisseries, confectioners and hundreds of varieties of cheese, France isn’t an obvious entry on the list of healthy countries, but it nonetheless scores highly in annual fitness rankings.
France’s secret seems to be enjoying the national delicacies in moderation, and heading out on foot to the numerous national parks and cultural sites found across the country.
The smallest European entry on the list, but no less active for it, is the tiny nation of Andorra, found sandwiched between France and Spain in the Pyrenees mountain range.
Andorrans live for 81 years on average, with this longevity attributed to plenty of exercise due to the mountainous landscape.
Skiing is popular in the principality, which along with hiking is a good way of burning off the calories from all that cannelloni and crema Andorrana.
In a not-too-different situation but on a larger scale, Switzerland is another mountainous country with similarly high physical activity levels.
While the Swiss are renowned for their love of chocolate and melted cheese dishes, they also have extensive mountain ranges and resorts for skiing, hiking and snowboarding.
Next up, despite it being the home of the Olympic Games, Greece is a European nation not exactly known for healthy living and high levels of activity.
However, this would not be true. In addition to benefitting from the renowned Mediterranean diet for their health, Greeks have plenty of space to get fit in as well. And whether it’s exploring the countryside or heading off to the gorgeous Greek islands, something is making them a top ranking European country for fitness.
Grabbing a continental spot all on its own, Australia is the last entry on our list and an excellent choice for anyone looking to get fit and healthy.
As well as healthy diets (barring the occasional barbeque), Australians also have an advantage thanks to the sheer variety of physical activities that are available.
Australia’s coasts are excellent for surfing and water sports, and the country also has a proud history of engaging in tougher sports, like rugby and ‘Aussie rules’ football.
While most of Australia is basically a huge desert, the country still has perfect hiking conditions for long and short-distance trekkers.
Warm winters also mean that you can be active outdoors all year round – an extra incentive for getting fit down under.
Finishing off with a look at the other end of the scale, here are some of the countries that fare less well in the fitness and health stakes.
Eastern Europe as a whole is one of the main places to avoid if you want to get fit, with countries like Belarus, Slovenia and Russia all ranking highly for elevated levels of smoking and alcohol consumption.
Taking the main prize, however, the nation with the dubious honour of being the unhealthiest place in the world (according to a range of measures) is the Czech Republic.
Stats from the World Health Organisation (WHO) show that on average, Czechs consume 13.7 litres of alcohol every year, and whilst they didn’t reach number one for smoking, coming 11th in tobacco consumption, this has nevertheless put the Czech Republic firmly at the bottom of the healthy pile.
Sticking to a fitness resolution can be a daunting task, but moving to a more active country and seeing people around you living a healthy lifestyle can at least help you keep your resolve!
Keep an eye on the TorFX blog for more emigration suggestions and recommendations, as well as the latest news that could affect UK expats.
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