Living a healthy life is important to all of us. And as Australians we’re pretty lucky in this area.
Australians enjoy access to first-class medical services and look forward to long life expectancies. Having said that, we can always learn from other cultures – particularly those with the world’s healthiest and happiest people.
Iceland: the world’s healthiest people?
Iceland is home to the world’s healthiest people, according to Forbes magazine. In a study of health and environmental data, Iceland was ranked top out of 138 nations, with Australia coming in at sixth place. Is the secret in what they eat? Is it the air they breathe? Or how they exercise?
Iceland is a land of frost, with temperatures as low as -39 degrees in winter. So it’s no wonder Icelanders are better than most at beating the winter blues.
When the chilly weather drives them indoors, many Icelanders turn to the gym.
This may explain why the country enjoys one of the world’s highest life expectancies – 81 for men and 84 for women.
Top-rate health care
Iceland’s long life expectancies could be thanks to one important factor – its health system is among the world’s best. In fact, the World Health Organisation ranked it fifteenth in a list of the world’s best health care systems.
The Nordic island also boasts one of the highest medical professional populations in the world. There are 3.6 doctors per 1000 people in Iceland, compared with an average of 3.1 in developed countries; there are also 15.3 nurses per 1000 people, compared with an average of 8.4 in developed countries.
Iceland has a small population of just 300,000 – and they breathe in some of the cleanest air in the world. The country has a low level of pollution that’s largely thanks to a reliance on environmentally friendly energy sources.
Health conscious Icelanders also like to keep their lungs toxin-free. The proportion of smokers has dropped from 33 per cent in 1987 to just 14.3 per cent today. This is compared to 17.5 per cent of Australians.
A sense of well-being
A sense of community and positivity may not equal good health, but it can be an indicator of good well-being. In Iceland, 96 per cent of people believe they know someone they could rely on in a time of need. This is much higher than the average country, where only 89 per cent have someone to rely on.
A further 85 per cent of Icelanders say they have more positive experiences than negative ones. This reflects a high level of life satisfaction – well above the average of 76 per cent.
With long life expectancies, impressive health care, low pollution and sound well-being, it’s easy to see why Icelanders are some of the healthiest, happiest people in the world.