A former college athlete from Canada who moved to Sweden as an adult shared what she learned from locals about living a healthy lifestyle.
Keltie O’Connor, 32, spends half the year in the city of Sundsvall, north of Stockholm, to be near her hockey player boyfriend during the busy season and spends the rest of the year in Vancouver.
It’s no secret that Sweden is a leading country in a number of metrics, including low obesity, overall quality of life and “happiest”, with the Scandinavian country being the sixth happiest in 2023.
Reflecting on her time in the region, Keltie decided to dive into the “healthy habits” she learned from the Swedes in a new YouTube video, joking, “We love healthy habits videos.”
Keltie O’Connor, a 32-year-old Canadian, spends half the year in Sweden to be near her hockey player boyfriend during the season.
Keltie decided to focus specifically on Stockholm and embarked on a day trip to chronicle the “healthy habits unique to Stockholm, which I think make Stockholm a city where it’s almost difficult not to have a high quality of life.” .
First of all, Stockholm is a “walkable city”.
“You hear ‘walkable cities,’ but what makes them ‘walkable cities,'” Keltie said.
“One thing is the walkability from one place to another in terms of distance, but also the frequency of streets that you can easily cross in Stockholm, specifically there are so many pedestrian crossings,” he said.
Secondly, “accessibility to good gyms.”
‘I’m not just talking about Equinox and stuff. I mean gyms at affordable prices,” she said.
He added that he has a membership at the STC gym in Stockholm, which costs about $50 in Canadian currency monthly, or about $37 USD.
Third (very closely related to your second point), Keltie discusses “the accessibility of fitness classes.”
On YouTube, he decided to explore 14 factors that make healthy living so “accessible”, focusing specifically on the capital of Stockholm.
Among the things Stockholm offers are spacious parks and access to nature.
Next, “the amount of nature in the center.”
“As someone who’s lived in the center of cities like Toronto, which really lacks that – they have a park you can go to, but the commute doesn’t have trees – you start to feel this revulsion.
‘We long for nature. And Stockholm has many small parks. You can hear birds singing in the middle of the center of a major city!’
Fifth, he praised “Swedish fashion”, which is elegant but practical.
‘Everyone is very well dressed compared to Canada. Just more business casual, but it’s practical. Think fleece jackets, pants, sneakers. Everything is very functional. You can tell they are hot, so they are going out, but they can go to a business meeting.
“Unlike most business attire in North America, for example, you can be outside for a couple of minutes and your shoes aren’t that practical.”
In sixth place, Keltie exclaimed: ‘The water quality for a specialty is phenomenal, it tastes so good! So it’s much easier to stay hydrated.
The content creator then gushed about public transportation, exclaiming that both trains and subways are “very accessible.”
‘Any city that has good public transport will naturally be a little healthier. And look how beautiful the Stockholm metro system is!’
Eighth on their list of healthy habits was foods rich in omega-3s, including salmon and other fatty fish and shellfish. Diets rich in omega-3s have been found to offer a variety of health benefits, from fighting depression to reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Clarifying that she didn’t want to generalize about what constitutes a “healthy diet,” as she feels it’s different for everyone, Keltie added that she feels like “your body loves carbs and dairy,” which makes it especially suitable for her personally. for for a Swedish diet.
The practice of ‘fika’ – “a break in the middle of the day for coffee with a friend and a sweet,” Keltie explained – reflects a greater devotion to work-life balance.
Ninth, also in relation to diet, Keltie stated that “healthy lunches” are very affordable throughout Stockholm, at “almost” the “exactly the same price” as fast food in the United States or Canada.
Good habits around work-life balance, including ‘fika’ (a break in the middle of the day for coffee with a friend and a sweet treat), came tenth on Keltie’s list.
‘It doesn’t sound that innovative, but I think it’s what makes Stockholm Stockholm and Sweden, Sweden.
‘We don’t do that in North America. We get the biggest coffee while traveling. We worked until we burst, when it would be so easy if we just stopped, took 10, 15 minutes, uncoiled and got going. But we don’t do that.’
With that, thanks to ample vacation time, “everyone” is on vacation for the entire month of July. ‘It’s expected. It’s not that you’re grinding less. It’s just a part of the culture that you need that break. You have a balance between personal and work life. You have time for your family, you have time for your friends, you have time for your hobbies.’
The eleventh healthy habit was the absence of vaping and smoking. ‘I do not see anyone [smoking]Keltie said. However, he added, many get their nicotine fix through Snus, a brand of “nicotine patches.”
“In Sweden, they are a way of life… it’s drastically how little I see in Sweden vaping or smoking compared to the amount of vaping I see in North America and the amount of smoking I see in the rest of Europe,” said. continued.
‘Is nicotine addiction healthy? No, I’m not saying that. But in my personal opinion, it’s better than inhaling cigarette smoke. But for now, that’s just my personal opinion and I’m in no way promoting them. Stay away.’
In twelfth place, there was the sauna culture.
‘We all know the health benefits of the sauna. And nowhere else is the sauna as much a part of their lives as in Scandinavia,” enthused Keltie.
“Living here has opened my eyes to how much the sauna is part of their culture, specifically in northern Sweden,” which, he added, shares a border with Finland, a country believed to be the largest user of saunas worldwide. world.
Keltie believed that using two duvets on a queen or king-size bed, one for each person in the couple, is a “game changer” in terms of improving sleep quality.
Thirteenth on his list was about how “government help” produces “less stress,” Keltie said.
He mentioned that among the health benefits provided by the government were at least “five free massages per year” for citizens.
‘There are a lot more resources and a lot more programs to have a safety net in Sweden, which I think is really admirable.
‘I don’t want to become political. But I’ve noticed that all Swedes, for the most part, even though it’s still a very innovative country, it’s invented things like Spotify, they still have that balance that everyone has their basic needs covered, for the most part.
‘It’s not perfect, I’m not an expert on this. The thing is that here in Sweden the stress of surviving is less. And I believe that when you don’t try to survive, you can thrive. It’s corny, but it’s true.
‘It is very difficult to worry about your health when all you are trying to do is survive. I’ve been there. When you think, “I just need to get to the next day. I just need to pay my bills. I just need to get food of any kind so I don’t starve.” do not care [about] the nutrients it contains.
‘And since everyone has that reference point, this gives you a little more flexibility to worry about your health and less stress.
“And I think the lack of stress is incredibly important and that’s why we look at Scandinavia and think, ‘Wow, that looks like a foreign land.’
‘And sometimes when I’m here I think, ‘This isn’t real!’
‘It’s not perfect, but they do some things very well!’ Keltie emphasized.
Last but not least, Keltie praised the use of a double duvet on the beds.
‘This is a game changer! I think this could change the world,” he explained.
Basically, this means that when couples share a bed, they each get their own duvet, rather than a large one to share on a king or queen-sized mattress.
‘Every couple has their own side. What does that mean? Better sleep quality!’ She exclaimed.
‘You can still sleep with the person, but no one hogs the blanket! I cocoon. I like to wrap myself. And I think it improves your quality of sleep.
‘I’m one of those people who I like to hug until I go to bed. And the moment I go to sleep, I roll over and say, “Stay there.”
In North America, he noted, the habit could lead people to speculate that a relationship is not solid.
“In Sweden they say to me: ‘Are you a psychopath? Of course they give you two duvets.”
In conclusion, Keltie admitted that she is “just scratching the surface” in terms of healthy habits in Stockholm.
‘It just makes it more accessible for the average person to be more active and more balanced. Basically you are able to easily fill your physical, mental, emotional, financial and spiritual buckets.’