Last week I was able to spend an entire week in Germany. I had been to Europe a few times but never there and it again reminded how much differently they live. Here is an American observation of what I learned while traveling around.
1) Walk a lot. I was advised by friends and family to bring a good pair of shoes and they weren’t kidding. We walked and walked and walked all over each city just like everyone else. I thought at first it was because we were tourists but then I realized that everyone walks everywhere. People were walking their dogs, walking to stores, walking to work, walking around castles, walking to meet for coffee, etc.
2) If you don’t walk, then bike. We were surprised at the number of bikes we saw all around in all the cities we visited. Small towns, little villages, and large cities all had a number of people using their bike instead of their cars.
3) Don’t eat fast food. Hardly any of the towns or cities had fast food restaurants and if they did we didn’t notice many people eating there. It was almost like a "Where’s Waldo" to find them unlike here in America where they are absolutely everywhere and all over the TV with commercials.
4) Drink a lot of water. While restaurants didn’t serve water unless requested, Europeans drank a lot of water and often requested and entire bottle to sip on during their meal.
5) Relax. Europeans are known for their many vacation days unlike the usual 14 – 21 here in the states. We met many on "holiday" from various countries and were jealous to hear about the length of time they could take off and enjoy.
It was such a wonderful vacation full of lots of walking, water, healthy food and relaxation. I advocate to my patients to follow these guidelines whether they are European or not. If insurance would pay for it – I would just write a prescription for patients to travel there for some "hands on" experience. Instead, we need to skip the fast food, stay hydrated, and get off our back side as much as possible and get moving.