Holiday weight gain tends to make us fat for life, but no worries, exercise helps

Nobody gains weight overnight. It happens gradually over the years or decades. Average adult tends to gain 0.5-1.0 kg per year, which is quite a lot actually. But no worries if there has been some weight gain, exercise helps.

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Take BBC’s 60-second test to figure out which sport are you made for?

I have recently been writing about cross-country skiing, but if it is not your sport you might want to take this BBC’s 60-second test to figure out more suitable sport for you. Check out also their related story where Santa Claus is most likely coming from, as well as their story about Finland which also shows Finns cross-country skiing.

New research confirms the superior health benefits of cross-country skiing

I have been writing lately about cross-country skiing and also previously about its great effects on fitness and health. There has also been large epidemiological studies showing its benefits.

New research from Finland also confirms this as it shows that cross-country skiing is actually superior to other sport and physical activity habits in terms of health (all-cause mortality). This is because researchers in this recent study took also into consideration other and total physical activity habits (as well as numerous other confounding factors that could have affected the results), and showed that cross-country skiing showed independent effects on mortality, thus skiers lived longer.

Like I have previously written, cross-country skiing activates basically all of our muscles stimulating cardiovascular function and metabolism substantially. It is also great “natural” interval training, even when practised at slow pace, particularly when you are skiing in mountaneous terrain. Therefore, if you have a chance, cross-country skiing is really something that could be practised to be physically active and fit!

Getting ready for World Snow Day 2018

World Snow day will be celebrated on 21st January 2018 and its purpose is to get children and their families in urban environments to head outside and enjoy the snow. Here is some more information about the day and a short trailer in English, which can be found in numerous other languages in Youtube.

Snowsports – another good way to be more active!

Finnish attempt “snowsports make you more active” won FIS SnowKidz Award and was recognised as the best programme worldwide last year to bring children to the snow. This year the program expands even more and other countries are also becoming more and more active advancing snowsport activities.

Cross-country skiing is really good activity also for kids. Also Southern and West part of Finland got quite a bit of snow (some 15 cm) yesterday, and we also needed to go and try if we could ski for the first time for the season. We have been in skitunnel skiing with artificial snow, but good real snow in a natural environment is still different. Although real tracks were not prepared yet, skiing was indeed possible, which was good fun and hopefully we will have lots of good winter days and snow ahead of us!

 

World Press Freedom Index – Because we can and care

This is a brief follow-up post for my recent not so much exercise-related post regarding Finland. This is just to indicate that although Finland ranks pretty well in many areas of equality, freedom, justice and wellbeing, it was a dissapointment that Finland ranks now only 4th in World Press Freedom Index.

Finland ranked first in the World Press Freedom Index for the past five years, but now Norway is the first and Sweden second. Finland suffers in this index from the actions of our Prime Minister, who made quite some actions of harassment against few state TV journalists. Our Prime minister Juha Sipilä is very wealthy man due to his former enterprise career, but he is (as maybe some other persons with similar history) very concerned with his public picture. There has actually been quite a few instances with him that are fairly similar to this clear harassment case, but we just have to hope he has finally figured out how to behave himself in the future.

The other journalist that resigned from her position due to Prime Minister’s actions was Salla Vuorikoski. She was hired by a leading Finnish magazine that I also subscribe and I am extremely happy that she now writes her stories there. She is namely one of the best if not the best Finnish journalists, whose articles are well-researched and highly interesting.

Vuorikoski also quite frequently writes about things related to Finnish Sports organizations and their finance. She has researched and revealed many grazy things related to Finnish Sports organizations, even clear corruption cases that happen behind the scenes also in Finland.

Thes are the journalists we need, who are not afraid of revealing and putting things forward.

So there is still room for improvements, also in Finland. And I am not writing this to say we have a bad Prime Minister, but because I can. Freedom of speech is namely one of the strongest and most-respected principles in Finland. It is the only way for developement and we all should be able to work and live in environments where we do need to be afraid of saying what we think.

Of course you cannot say just whathever, as it is not wise for instance to insult someone. Nevertheless, freedom of speech has been one of the key principles of Finnish and Nordic thinking at least since the year 1776, when Anders Chydenius started to act as one of the strongest advocates of freedom of expression.

The Telegraph has reviewed it: 18 reasons why Finland is the greatest country on Earth

This is not so much exercise-related post, but if you want to check out some facts and funny things about Finland and Finnish people, this article by British The Telegraph is quite good for that purpose.

They apparently got excited and wanted to know some more as some of their Princes were visiting Finland last week. I have also had a pleasure to have some visitors from United Kingdom in terms of research collaboration and one thing I did with them last week was to visit sauna and ice-cold water, several times. This is one of the things many Finns like to do as it is very healthy activity, and The Telegraph has written some stories also on this topic.

After only few days, December 6th, Finland celebrates its 100th anniversary since it became indepedent from Russia, and our national Statistics Center has also collected some nice facts about Finland supported by hard statistics. Before the year 1809 when Finland became part of Russia, there was actually no Finland as we know it today. Before the year 1809 Finland was part of Sweden and lots of Finnish administration and other principles dates back to those days.

Although Finland has done pretty well for a very small country during its 100 years of independence, there is still a lot that we can learn from Sweden and other countries, which we also try to do all the time.

Family Activities for Fun and Good Health

Another link that I happened to click recently was NIH’s National Institute on Aging provided article discussing family activities that could be tried to improve the health of whole family. That was good read but they have also lots of other good information that could be checked, such as general guides for endurance, strenght, balance and flexibility training that everyone should do, preferably daily. But coming back to physical activities that whole family could do, one of the most common things that we use to do is to take our boys to ride their bicycles while we are running as parents. I have actually done that ever since my oldest child was 2,5 years old when he learnt to cycle, without balance wheels. He had used a balance bike for quite long before that so actual cycling was quite easy after that. We were living in The Netherlands at that time and luckily roads were very flat and regions very safe, which made things much easier. I was also giving him a little “push” every now and then and was helping him when going uphills (those few that we faced during our normal running and cycling trips).Younger brother also learnt to cycle at quite young age and now they need to wait dad when I am running and they are with their bikes 🙂 We also cycle to pre-school and daycare and use bike every time when distances are not too long.

Cycling, walking and playing various (ball) games together is also good fun. One of the things we do once per week is parent-child floorball, which has been so great as that is not so “structured” club exercise aiming at competitions or so but just easy playing with kids. Regional club football is also good as boys can meet and interact with their mates at the same time, as well as during cross-country skiing practises where general motor and other skills will improve substantially. So there are plenty of good ways to be physically active also as a whole family and we just need to pick up the best ways that work each one of us.

Mental health can be strengthened

I happened to read one newsletter which was telling about the Finnish Association for Mental Health and thought to share their pretty good webpages for anyone interested. It is not that common for this type of Finnish organizations or societies to have their information in English as well, but they have and please have a look. There is lot more information and articles also about physical activity and mental health in Finnish, but hope you can find some useful information in English as well. Even I was not aware that this Finnish Association has been around for over a century, which is quite impressive that the need for this topic has been realized for so long already.

Good country index – Sweden leads the way

Good country index ranks different countries (163 in total) based on how much they produce good and how much they consume environment. This index consists of seven different categories, which are for instance health, equality, peace work and climate, and it is not surprise to me that Sweden ranks the best country in the world when these topics are considered. Finlands does also pretty well being 7th overall and based on my living and frequent visits to these countries during my PhD and post-doc periods, I can also understand it very well that for instance Denmark ranks 2nd and  The Netherlands 3rd.

All these countries do very well in many categories such as in Health and wellbeing, but I nowadays tend to always evaluate how much people in different countries care and pay attention to equality aspects. These rankings are also well in line with what I have seen as Sweden is again the first, Switzerland 2nd, Denmark 3rd and Finland 4th, but despite all the prosperity and fame, Australia ranks only 66th, although it is overall 18th.

But these country rankings are not the most important thing, but it is how well different countries and people can work together to solve global challenges. One really good example of this is Dutch-Finnish collaboration to build OMI satellite system that can track air pollution in different parts of the world. It was sent to space in 2004 together with NASA’s Aura satellite. Even Barack Obama has highlighted this system and his short YouTube video on this topic is worth of watching.

To read and learn more about Sweden, visit this official site. And if we do not take things so seriously and like a bit of irony, watch also these country “promotion” videos particularly by Finland, Sweden, The Netherlands, Switzerland, Denmark and Australia, but also various others to learn more about different countries.

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Copyright © 2018 Ilkka Heinonen / ileximius. All rights reserved.

The views expressed on this website do not neccasarily reflect the views of University of Turku or other institutions or organisations Dr. Heinonen represents.