I’ve returned to the States after an unforgettable trip to Italy feeling refreshed and inspired after experiencing a new culture that exemplifies a great Life Balance of: family, work, love, food, health, and happiness. After doing some quick research I found that Italy ranks within the Top-10 healthiest countries with the 8th highest life expectancy (WHO 2013). My wife and I both noticed that Italians relish in the simplicity of life, creating a more relaxed way of living.
Here are a few observations that surprised me:
– Far less obesity
– Food is ever-present yet healthy and in moderation
– Healthier food options (more fish, less red meat, no chips)
– More people smoke cigarettes
– Never once saw a gym
– Daily “riposos”(naps), they leave work! Stores actually close from 2-5pm.
While Italians enjoy their pasta, they stick to a true Mediterranean diet. Their diets feature fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, olive oils, small amounts of diary, fish, and moderate amounts of wine. I never once saw anyone pounding down a double quarter pounder with cheese, fries, and large soda (a soda alone will cost you 3,50 euro!) or a pasta helping for one person that could feed an army. Instead, everything is FRESH and consumed in MODERATION. I believe these two elements contribute greatly to their health.
The lack of gyms was a surprise to me. You can walk down 2 blocks in Chicago and pass 3 gyms. We walked everywhere in each city we visited and not once did we pass a gym. People are more active, they get up early to jog or hike the surrounding streets, paths, and hills. People walk and bike everywhere they need to go, the streets are busy because that’s how people get around. There is a much less reliance on cars and public transit, therefore being more active everyday.
Every time you visit a new place it helps you put your life into a new perspective. Italy has made me realize that a balanced life of moderation inspires happiness and health. America imposes a lot of stress on it’s citizens to look better, work harder, and be the best of the best. This has driven us to be one of the World’s “powerhouses” while often compromising it’s citizens health (US ranks 35th in the world for life expectancy). Find your life balance, take a break from the stress. A life of moderation is key for your health.