Simple and Healthy Lifestyle Options: Friluftsliv

Image by Mario Ohibsky 

Pamela Chan, Editorial/

Do you often encounter online and face-to-face debates about the best way to live your life so that you’ll be slim, happy, well balanced, healthy, and avoid illness and an early death? In recent years, there has been a constant onslaught of shifting opinions and research about these topics in the mainstream media and in people’s private social media posts and conversations. Are there simpler and less discussed alternatives to many of these popular lifestyle choices?

This is a four part series about the Blue Zone lifestyle, exercise choices, the Norwegian concept of Friluftsliv and small holding.

PART 3: Embrace Friluftsliv

Unless you’ve gone on a years long digital detox, you’ve likely encountered articles about the Danish concept of Hygge, which loosely translates into efforts to create a cozy atmosphere in your home. Friluftsliv (pronounced free-loofts-liv) is a Norwegian word which focuses on human beings’ love and respect for nature.  It’s about living a lifestyle and doing activities in the open air outdoors, while connecting with nature. The closest translation of friluftsliv is “free air life”.

When I first moved to British Columbia, when I was in my early 20s, I was taken in by the easy access to natural settings.  For most of my first fives years living in BC, I lived right next to the Capilano river and could see the Burrard Inlet  and out towards Vancouver Island from my windows. Whether it was time on a beach or going for a simple walk in the woods, I made sure that I had outdoor gear that could help me get outside and have fun.

In recent years, there has been an increased amount of discussion about the importance of nature in our children’s lives (see the Nature Deficit discussions).  The European concept of Outdoor Kindergarden and schools has become more popular.  You can also find camps and programmes that focus on outdoor opportunities for children and adults.

How can we embrace this concept of spending even more time outdoors than we already do?  It could be an activity as simple as going to your local park, or walking around and sitting on a bench while taking in the sound of the wind in the trees. Or how about planning to make a hike down to Wreck Beach the next time you’re visiting UBC?  You can also join a bird watching walking tour or take a Nordic skiing course or take up the German tradition of going on community walks on Sunday.

How can we support opportunities for our family members to join us on simple outings this spring and summer?

Are there groups, Volksmarche walks and other communities which you can join for outdoor adventures?

Have you checked out your regional parks (large and small) where you can find regular opportunities to learn about the outdoors and go on walks?

The Volkssporting BC  website has information about walking events in British Columbia. Their activities are inspired by the Volksmarches movement that developed in Germany 50 years ago.  If you’re looking for Nordic walking poles that won’t break your budget, here’s one on Amazon that is under $100 and comes with 40,000+ reviews.

You might wonder why I’ll include a video about this topic in Norwegian. The images give a feel for what friluftsliv is about.  You can also see how the video producer includes some of the simple gear you can invest in to help you with your outdoor adventure.

What’s your favourite way to be active outside? You can comment about this posting on the Facebook page. Your contribution matters so don’t be shy!

Part 1: Blue Zone Lifestyle 

Part 2: Trying New Exercise Options

Part 4: Small Holding

What can we learn from the German walking tradition?