How To Keep Fit And Healthy In Sweden
When you make any large change to your lifestyle and routine, it can be very difficult to keep up your prior good habits. If you are moving to a new country and trying to settle in and get your paperwork sorted out all at the same time, then things like healthy nutrition and fitness regimes can go out of the window while you expend time, energy and stress on filling in forms and trying to figure out where to send them.However, it is important to look after your physical and mental health, and arguably this is even more pertinent when you are going through a stressful situation such as moving country.
The public health service in Sweden will provide you with healthcare for any emergencies or ongoing medical problems, and you can take out private medical insurance to cover you until you have registered with the public system, but beyond maintaining a basic level of health it is important to set up good habits that you can keep up throughout your stay in Sweden.
Sweden is one of the very few countries in the world where the majority of the population have a gym membership. This means that you can enjoy a high level of choice when you move to Sweden, and that you should be able to find a gym near where you live, although if you live in a rural area then you will probably have to travel a little further than you would in the city.
If you are studying in Sweden, you will find that most gyms do discounts for students. Some, such as Fitness 24/7, will offer discounts on an already low rate, meaning that you might only need to pay in the region of 170 SEK per month to use the gym.
Naturally, these gyms have fewer bells and whistles than their more expensive counterparts, but you should still be able to find weights and cardio equipment, as well as general workout areas. Often these gyms will work on a card entry basis, and many will be open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
If you are looking for something a little more high-end, then you should be able to find a membership for about 400 SEK per month that includes things like a permanent locker, towels provided for members, and a wide range of activities and classes included with the membership. Some of these will be with large international gym companies, but there will also be local Swedish ones that might offer memberships at slightly lower prices.
Sweden does not have a large number of swimming pools. There are only eighteen in the whole country, and not all of them are open all of the time. If you live in Malmø or Stockholm, you will have the highest level of choice, and there are even pools in these cities that run special sessions just for women, if you prefer a same-sex swimming session for religious, cultural or comfort reasons.
Despite the famously cold weather, there are a number of outdoor swimming clubs throughout the country. If you are not used to swimming outside in cold temperatures, then it is recommended that you begin in the summer and gradually work your way up to swimming in colder weather, since diving straight into swimming during the colder months can cause medical emergencies such as heart attacks or hypothermia.
It is also recommended that you wear a wetsuit, even if you have swum in cold countries before; each area’s climate will be different from the others you have swum in, and you don’t want your body to end up in shock. Joining a local outdoor swimming group can be a great way to ease yourself in — most are very amenable to new members and will be happy to help you to acclimatise.
Speaking of the cold, winter sports are extremely popular in Sweden too. Hockey, and the related local sport of bandy, are both very popular and you should be able to find a club near you.
If you are very adventurous, then you might want to head to the north of the country and take part in cross-country skiing or ice fishing (or indeed both). Ice fishing involves drilling a hole into the ice, inserting a fishing rod and then waiting for something to take the bait: a fine meditative way to relax after a long cross-country skiing session to get to your fishing spot!
There are a number of mountains and hill ranges where you can go rock climbing, bouldering and hiking; or, if you are feeling up to a bigger challenge, you can visit the Scandinavian mountain range in the north of the country and tackle Mount Kebnekaise. The tallest mountain is Sweden is over 2,000 metres high and the views from the summit are said to be breathtaking.
If you would prefer something more moderate, visit your local tourism office to see whether there are any recommended hiking trails near you. Even in the cities you will often find that you are just a short trip from the countryside, and taking a day off to go walking can be a great way to relax and unwind at the end of the working week.
It is important to make sure that you are prepared for all eventualities if you do partake in outdoor sports, though. The Swedish health service will provide treatment in emergencies regardless of whether or not you have signed up for public healthcare, but if you do not have insurance and your residency permit has not yet come through, then you could find yourself saddled with a huge medical bill once you have recovered.
Several of the private insurance companies that serve Sweden will include optional extras for things like medical evacuation and air ambulances in the mountains, so if you are planning to partake in mountain sports on a regular basis, it will be worth looking into this.
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