Having moved to Canberra from Texas a year ago, I am still basking in the health habits of my fellow Canberrans. While my exclamations on how healthy I find people here surprises many Aussies, I hope by sharing my observations you will be inspired to continue with choices you may have taken for granted previously. When we realise something is special, it encourages us to take advantage of it.
1. Active Commutes
My husband and I get a kick out of the bike lanes on the highways, but they are used! While in Houston there are signs specifically prohibiting people from biking along the highway, here people are encouraged to have not only active commutes, but really active commutes! Even if you aren’t cycling 30km to work through wind and rain, don’t underestimate the health benefits of your daily walk to and from the bus or the rail. Walk like you’re late and turn your daily commute into a mini exercise session!
2. Active Hobbies
Like embracing active commutes, I love that many Aussies have active hobbies. From mountain biking at Stromlo to hiking up Mount Ainslie, Canberrans enjoy more than just sitting to watch a footy game. If you do find your social activities are often sedentary or always revolve around food, ask an active friend to meet for a walk instead.
3. Tea Time
Yes! Another one of our favourite Aussie activities: morning and afternoon tea. While this can be a troublesome place for unnecessary calories, morning and afternoon tea is also a wonderful cultural practice that can prevent overeating at meal time. Spending too long between meals can lead to ravenous snacking, so use tea time to hydrate, add a healthy fruit or wholemeal serve to your day, or as a mental health break to walk outside.
4. Sugar-free Hydration
While Australians tend to consume more alcohol than Americans, I can certainly applaud you on your non-alcoholic beverage choices. I have seen so little soda here it makes my dietitian heart jump for joy, and water seems to be the go-to beverage. Aussies don’t seem to feel deprived by this or agonise over selecting water either. Sugar-sweetened beverages are linked to chronic diseases like heart disease, obesity, type 2 diabetes, and several cancers, so please maintain your love for H20!
I love living in a place where I can recycle everywhere! I’ve been impressed by office break rooms with real dishes rather than styrofoam, composting at community gardens, and groups like “Buy Nothing” on Facebook. While these habits may not directly impact our health as much as something like not smoking, I do think living intentionally has positive health repercussions.
What are your thoughts? What are some health habits from other cultures you admire or have tried to add to your Australian lifestyle?