The Swedish notion of lagom is basically the Canadian equivalent of ‘moderation.’ It translates loosely to ‘not too much and not too little.’ It is about making reasonable choices for our health that can cause us to live longer, fuller, happier and healthier lives. The Swedes are some of the healthiest people in the world, thanks in no small part to an excellent healthcare system and a natural landscape that invites being active outdoors (kind of like Canada).

In the new book, The Nordic Guide to Living 10 Years Longer (coming April 15th), Swedish doctor Bertil Marklund outlines easy steps you can take today to incorporate lagom into your life and reap the benefits.

Here’s what we learned:

  1. Genetics isn’t everything: Your genetic makeup accounts for only twenty-five per cent of your longevity. That means the other seventy-five per cent is determined by lifestyle choices – things you can do today to help you live a longer, better life. 
  2. Make manageable changes: “Get moving and avoid sitting still for more than thirty minutes,” says Marklund. “A person who exercises for at least three hours a week is biologically ten years younger than someone who doesn’t exercise. Eat and drink something tasty but healthy—and not too much. Sunbathe a quarter of an hour each day during the summer, stay positive in life and take care of your friends. Have a break—don’t be accessible all the time.”
  3. Ditch the cigs: “A healthy lifestyle means living in a way that significantly reduces the production of free radicals and thus also reduces the damage to our immune system, blood vessels, and organs,” writes Marklund. “This in turn reduces inflammation and consequently the risk of contracting a range of different diseases.” Smoking, incidentally, is by far the “most significant cause of free radicals and inflammation.”
  4. Take a deep breath: “Breathing calmly and methodically is perhaps humankind’s most effective anti-stress tool,” writes Marklund. “Taking slow, deep breaths, right down to the stomach, gives the body and mind an opportunity to regroup and re-energize. Deep breathing increases circulation and lowers the heart rate, anxiety reduces, the immune system is strengthened, but above all—the breathing creates a sense of well-being and an inner calm.
  5. Take a nap (Editor’s note: love this one!): “A study of 24,000 people showed that people who regularly slept in the afternoon ran an almost forty per cent lower risk of suffering cardiovascular disease that led to death,” says Marklund. “It is, however, a good idea to take your nap (about twenty minutes seems to be the optimum length) in the middle of the day, so as not to interfere with your night-time sleep.”

Want to know more? Order the book here.