Recent research reveals that people in the Netherlands are moving the most compared to inhabitants from other countries in the European Union. 80 percent of Dutch people cycle, walk, work in their garden or swim weekly, compared to 44 percent on average in the EU.
Great news or not?
Great news, you might think. However, there is a huge downside to this. I discuss that later on.
First I explain more about the research that was done by The European Commission’s Eurobarometer, called Sport and physical activity report. In 2017, more than 28,000 Europeans (including 1040 Dutch people) aged 15 and older were asked for how often they move.
Well, I am not so surprised by the fact that Dutch people move a lot. One reason, of course, is that there is a good infrastructure in the Netherlands that promotes walking and cycling.
Cycling to school
I myself was born and raised in the Netherlands and I can say from my own experience that I used to go to school by bike, just like all my other classmates. From the age of four going to primary school, we cycled until high school, within the same city. At the age of 18, I moved out of my parents to live in the city of my university and also there we all cycled to university.
We always went on the bike. In rain, wind, snow, and sun, that does not matter. The weather is never bad, it just depends on what you are wearing. So most often in this country with a lot of rain, we all cycled wrapped up in rain gear.
The elementary school was only 5 minutes cycling, the secondary school fifteen minutes and the university was not that far away, a maximum of 30 minutes. But some classmates from surrounding villages had to cycle for an hour to high school until they were at school. And after school, we always cycle to friends, sports or activities.
I have lived abroad for a number of years (United States, South Africa, France, Italy, the Philippines and Thailand, and we go to Spain every year). I always notice that people walk and cycle less. In the United States I went to high school and there you were picked up with the school bus and when you were 16, many classmates already had a car and just drove around. There was a lot of sports activities you could choose from in school. But I never really saw many people walking. Only in the early mornings in the shopping malls there were walking activities for health. Some people did cycle but then for sport, not like in the Netherlands we use the bicycle as a meaning of transport. In my area in the United States, there were no footpaths and cycle paths.
Public transport and cars
In the Philippines, everyone I knew took a ‘tricycle (kind of riksia) or’ jeepney ‘(a sort of shared taxi bus) to move around. And also in South Africa, France, Italy, and Thailand, I did not see people walk and cycle as much as here.
On the picture by the way, you see our kids (age 4 and 6) cycling to school on a sunny day, hurray. With helmets by the way, which I never had when I was young, this is something that you see only recently that kids wear helmets when cycling and very few adults do too.
But well … back to the research …
Sports for fun
It turns out that the Dutch also do a lot of sports (56% practice sport weekly, compared to the average in Europe of 40%) and that mainly for fun, not necessarily for their health like other Europeans. Only in Sweden, Denmark and Finland, people do sports more often than in the Netherlands. The group of intensive athletes (five times a week or more) is small at 6 percent, just like in the rest of the European Union.
But … here is the other part of the research that worries me …
Because the research continues …
And then it becomes clear that the Dutch are movement champions, but also … they are champions of sitting!
It is striking that in countries where people move a lot, people also sit more often. The Netherlands, Sweden, and Denmark are both the moving and sitting champions of Europe.
The Dutch sit around 8.7 hours a day, mainly because more and more people do sedentary work.
Looking at the country level, respondents are more likely to spend 2 hours 30 minutes or less sitting down in Romania (31%), followed by those in Portugal (23%), Cyprus and Poland (both 22%).
At the other end of the scale, respondents are more likely to spend more than 8 hours 30 minutes a day sitting down in the Netherlands (32%), Denmark (23%), the Czech Republic (21%), Sweden (20% ) and Greece (19%).
Sitting can kill you
So wherever you are … hope you start moving. Because sitting more than 8 hours a day can kill you in the end…. but you knew that already, didn’t you?
Create a healthy day!
Nicole & Manel
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