Norwegians love to stretch their legs

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It’s official: Norwegians’ passion for going “på tur” (out for a walk or skiing) has been documented in a new study by state statistics bureau SSB. Fully 79 percent of Norwegians have been out walking during the past year and 39 percent went skiing, according to SSB’s latest lifestyle survey.

The skiing hasn't been very good in the hills and forests around Oslo during the holiday, but this couple took advantage of the few centimeters of snow on a lake near Frognerseteren on Christmas Day. A few more centimeters fell after that. PHOTO: newsinenglish.no

The skiing hasn’t been very good in the hills and forests around Oslo during the holiday, but this couple took advantage of the few centimeters of snow on a lake near Frognerseteren on Christmas Day. A few more centimeters fell after that. PHOTO: newsinenglish.no

The survey confirmed that Norwegians are indeed an active and outdoorsy bunch, regardless of age: 85 percent of all Norwegians aged 16 and over said they’d gone out for “short” walks (defined as lasting less than three hours) during the past 12 months, with 80 percent going on “short” hikes in the forests or mountains. Half of those questioned in the survey said they’d gone on longer treks of more than three hours during the past year.

Another 43 percent had gone fishing, 40 percent went jogging and 45 percent went cycling. Fully 82 percent said they’d exercised at least once a week during the past year, up from 73 percent in 2007.

The survey by SSB (Statistisk sentralbyrå, also known as Statistics Norway) found that those with higher education and in full-time jobs were the most active, especially those aged 25 to 44. More than half (56 percent) of those questioned who were older than age 67, however, had also gone out walking and comprised the largest group of those who go outdoors for a bærtur (to pick wild berries). For the public in general, 34 percent had gone on walks to pick berries and mushrooms.

Women were slightly more likely to go out for shorter walks than men. “It’s important to get at least an hour of light and fresh air during the middle of the day,” Helene Svabø, who was out walking on Bygdøy with three girlfriends, told newspaper Aftenposten. “And then we can have a good chat. It’s almost like therapy. We often have the best conversations when we’re out walking.”

Men are more likely to set off on cross-country ski trips longer than three hours, according to SSB, but not by much: 56 percent compared to 47 percent of women questioned.

Svabø, who was home in Oslo for the holidays, said she thinks foreigners “laugh at us Norwegians and ask what we really do when we go for walks. I think it just lies in our souls.”

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund