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How we can learn from the healthiest countries in the world in 2022

From clean eating to rigorous fitness regimes, this year we’ll be pulling out all the stops to make improvements, but far from simply focusing on our physical health, we’ll be taking a holistic approach that incorporates mental and spiritual wellness, too.

By LLM Reporters  |  February 23, 2022
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In 2022, our health remains a central focus thanks to the ongoing global pandemic – and while lockdowns and other restrictions have eased, we’re still placing greater importance on looking after ourselves than we have done previously. From clean eating to rigorous fitness regimes, this year we’ll be pulling out all the stops to make improvements, but far from simply focusing on our physical health, we’ll be taking a holistic approach that incorporates mental and spiritual wellness, too.

Meditation, mindfulness and yoga have experienced a huge surge in popularity in recent years, and as we continue to gain a greater understanding of the mind-body connection and how one affects the other, we’re beginning to place a greater emphasis on including them in our daily routines.

Of course, while we’re all in charge of looking after ourselves, there’s only so much we can do when it comes to supporting our health and wellness, and in many ways, governments around the world must take responsibility to ensure that countries are as safe and healthy to live in as possible. With issues like pollution, food quality and work / life balance all playing a role, the onus is on them to take steps to improve the current status quo – and currently, Japan is proving to be a shining example for other nations, having recently been named the healthiest nation in the world to live in.

yoga woman on green grass
Meditation, mindfulness and yoga have experienced a huge surge in popularity in recent years, and as we continue to gain a greater understanding of the mind-body connection and how one affects the other, we’re beginning to place a greater emphasis on including them in our daily routines

Thanks to its excellent public transport system, few people own their own cars and air pollution therefore remains low. And, unlike the typically unhealthy western diet, Japanese nutrition focuses on smaller portions and protein-rich dishes, which means obesity levels are lower and health is generally better as a result. With walking the primary means of getting around, individuals are fitter and more active, too, and all of these factors have combined to give Japan the highest life expectancy in the world.

It’s clear that we can all learn a lot from Japan, as well as similarly healthy nations like Switzerland and Norway – but what do we, and our countries and governments, need to do to follow suit?

Go smoke free

stop smoking
Countries around the world have been taking steps towards going smoke free over recent years in a bid to improve public health – and in light of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, encouraging smokers to kick the habit has become more important than ever

Countries around the world have been taking steps towards going smoke free over recent years in a bid to improve public health – and in light of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, encouraging smokers to kick the habit has become more important than ever. The likes of Ireland, Greece, Bulgaria, Malta, Spain and Hungary have the strictest smoke-free provisions in place currently, and have seen greatly reduced pressures on their health systems as a result – but what about the UK?

With the UK government hoping to make the nation smoke-free by 2030, various legislations have been put in place to help make this possible, and with the market encouraging the switch to vaping as a stepping stone to giving up the habit completely, it seems we’re making some good progress already.

Smoking tobacco increases the risk of lung cancer, cardiovascular disease and other respiratory issues; as well as posing a range of immediate side effects like rapid heart rate and shortness of breath – so the reasons to quit are many.

GoSmokeFree.co.uk commissioned a poll of 800 Brits to determine whether they think health authorities have done enough to encourage smokers to quit by converting to vaping, which revealed that currently, just 1 in 4 (27 percent) believe so – so there’s still a way to go. But with the pressures facing the NHS now more under the spotlight than ever before, we can expect to see efforts ramping up throughout 2022 and beyond.

Improve food and air quality

healthy food
The Swiss diet comprises very few processed foods, and the obesity rate remains very low as a result

Switzerland is one of the best countries to live in for a longer life, with an average life expectancy of 84 years (that’s three years longer than the UK). Although its breath-taking natural scenery likely has a role to play in enticing residents to go outdoors and walk, run and ski more, it isn’t the only reason the Swiss are living longer – and a healthy diet based on fresh, whole foods could be the key.

The Swiss diet comprises very few processed foods, and the obesity rate remains very low as a result. Add to that the lower emissions due to the fact that walking, as opposed to driving, is common, and Switzerland is ticking all the right boxes, and some.

Increase the number of health professionals

Medical treatment and health care concept
In Norway, there are 48.04 psychiatrists for every 100,000 people – that’s more than any other nation in the world

In Norway, there are 48.04 psychiatrists for every 100,000 people – that’s more than any other nation in the world. Although it does have a fairly high rate of mental health disorders and substance abuse rates, it has put a focus on enticing more people into the profession in order to support them, keeping waiting lists shorter and ensuring that those in need are seen in a timely manner.

Turkey, meanwhile, has done a great job of training nurses, with 150.25 for every 100,000 people in the country. Combine this with the nation’s free healthcare, and you have one of the best all-round healthcare systems in the world.

Norway and Turkey aren’t the only countries to offer an impressive level of support in the health and wellness field, but we can certainly learn from them – and by putting a greater focus on building out these professions and investing in the best possible training for them, governments could make our countries healthier and more supportive environments to live in, too.