Americans are more sedentary than ever and our obesity rates are relatively high when compared to other countries. We are definitely fortunate in many ways but we could stand to gain some healthy habit ideas from women in other areas of the world. Doing so could increase happiness, reduce stress, and help us to shed some unwanted weight.
Try incorporating one or more of the following ideas into your regular routine and see how it positively impacts your life. These are great ideas!
1. They dress up their water.
Healthy women in Mexico make homemade aguas frescas, or fresh waters, to ensure they drink plenty of H2O. “These refreshing drinks substitute high-calorie drinks and add vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants to your table,” says Yvonne Trevino Hayek, a Mexican nutritionist and elite runner. Aguas frescas from restaurants or street vendors usually contain a lot of sugar, but you can easily make a healthier version at home simply by muddling fresh fruits, vegetables, or herbs into cold water. “The most popular flavors are cucumber, lemon, hibiscus, and coconut,” Hayek said. (These 25 Sassy Water recipes will get you started.)
2. Women in the Netherlands bike everywhere.
Women in the Netherlands bike everywhere. Not just for their weekend exercise or with their kids, but to get from A to B. A major trend among Dutch women is attaching a large wooden box to the front of their bikes to carry groceries, according Dutch nutritionist and health coach, Yneke Vocking. “It’s our secret for gorgeous legs,” she says. The European Commission found that Dutch people use bikes as their main mode of transportation for about one-third of their daily activities, more than any other European country. And scientists have found a correlation between rates of obesity and the amount of “active transportation” populations undertake in various countries, according to a study published in the Journal of Physical Activity and Health. People in leaner nations tend to bike and walk to get where they need to go, rather than drive.
3. They make vegetable their main course.
“Greece has the highest consumption of vegetables in the world,” says Elena Paravantes, RDN, the editor of olivetomato.com and the founding nutrition director of Prevention-Greece. “Many main course vegetable dishes are a key part of a healthy Greek woman’s diet.” Multiple studies have found that plant-rich diets help keep you healthy as you age. Recent findings published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition show that healthy vegetarian diets contain more of several protective nutrients, including magnesium, potassium, and vitamin K, which fight osteoporosis.
4. They get massages regularly.
While Americans tend to get massages only when they’re injured or have a gift card kicking around, women in Thailand strongly believe in getting frequent, regular massages in order to stay healthy, fit, and lean, according to Nitra Kitayakara, the author of two bestselling books about yoga and mindfulness. Many studies have found that Thai massage can improve a wide variety of physical fitness measures, including flexibility, agility, speed, and strength.
5. They wouldn’t dream of avoiding the natural sugars in fruit.
“I eat fruit at almost every meal,” says Andrea Estevam, a health journalist and competitive cyclist and runner in Brazil. Estevam says that healthy women in Brazil do not shy away from fruit because of its sugar content, like many American dieters do—rather they see natural sugars as a great source of energy to fuel their workouts and daily activities. (Make the most of your fruit with these 20 super-healthy smoothie recipes.)