Month: November 2017

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.

Wow, watch this video how Finnish school kids exercise during their math class!

Unfortunately this video is in Finnish, but hopefully that does not disturb you as that video is really worth of watching! This is their typical (math) class and teacher has built facilities that kids can freely try and exercise when they feel so. According to the story one of the girls can now do 34 pull-ups as a result of these activities, which is at least some 10-15 repetitions more than even I can currently do! Nice job, that is also so good for their fitness in addition to their academic performance.

These kind of actions have become really popular in Finnish Schools lately. They are in practise a rule rather than an exception. This is because teachers have found kids can concentrate and learn better when they can do some exercise activities during their studies. We have already known that leisure time physical activity and good fitness is good for your academic performance at school, but teachers in Finland have now advanced this to “normal” classes as well.

These are really some activities and not just standing up from the chair!

It is known that leisure time exercise such as swimming is very good habit to improve academic performance of young kids, but many exercise activities can be easily performed during “normal” school classes as well.

Are elite athletes best persons to talk about climate change?

I came across with a video by International Ski Federation where elite winter athletes talk about climate change. While it is indeed a very good idea to increase the awaraness of this phenomenon, which is very critical for the success of our planet, I also started to wonder whether elite (winter) sport athletes are really the best persons to talk about preventing climate change.

This is because they are the persons that travel the most with airplanes all over the world to reach their training and competition destinations. Airplane travel is an important source of pollution promoting climate change, as discussed in detail for instance in this scientific paper, or by New York Times story (with lots of good links), which might be a bit easier to follow.

Unfortunately the video is a typical – lot of talk, no actions – promotion video. Hopefully International Ski Federation thinks also actions next time. In the meantime everyone can take their own actions for the matter by traveling being physically active rather than taking a car or airplane.

 

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