Welcome skiing weekend looms

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Fresh snow and even some sunshine in the forecast for Sunday were boosting prospects for great skiing all over Norway this weekend. A new survey indicates that’s what most Norwegians want to do, and that in turn bodes well for the state health care budget.

The great outdoors seems to have more appeal to more Norwegians than ever before. Here's the view over Hadeland, from the northernmost fringes of the hills north of Oslo known as Nordmarka. PHOTO: Views and News

The survey, conducted by research firm Synovate, shows that fully two-thirds of Norwegians would rather go skiing or cycling or hiking than work out at an indoors gym or training center. It must have something to do with the locals’ love for the great outdoors.

Fully two-thirds (64 percent) of those responding to the survey said they want to “be more active out in the nature and in their neighbourhoods.” Only 19 percent said they preferred working out at a training studio or inside a gymnasium.

Among those who currently are not physically active by participating in any sport, two-thirds also responded that they wanted to become more active.

Synovate conducted the survey for Friluftslivets fellesorganisasjon (Frifo), the national group representing Norway’s 13 largest outdoors associations. Members include coastal access group Forbundet Kysten, mountain trekking association Den Norske Turistforening DNT and ski association Skiforeningen.

“There are many who say they want to be outdoors, but don’t have the time,” Ida Sørbye, who’s about to take off on a two-week cross-country skiing trip in the mountains, told Aftenposten. “But it’s all about taking the time to do it.”

Better outdoors than indoors
Another recent study by independent research concern SINTEF showed how Norwegian society can benefit enormously if Norwegians turn their wishes of being more active outdoors into reality. The study, also conducted on behalf of Frifo, concluded that being active outdoors is simply good for Norwegians’ physical and mental health. Considerable gains, SINTEF reported, can be derived from outdoor recreation both in the form of lower health care costs (a public responsibility in Norway) and less absence from school and work.

If only half of those currently inactive (about a fourth of the Norwegian population) started walking, cycling or otherwise became more physically active outdoors, it could yield a gain valued at NOK 2 billion, according to SINTEF.

“When two of three say they want to get outdoors, this needs to be taken seriously,” Lasse Heimdal, secretary general of Frifo told Aftenposten. The gains from outdoor activity can be greater than those from indoor activity, agreed SINTEF researcher Karl Gerhard Hem.

It’s ‘in’ to be ‘out’
“That’s what’s most interesting,” Hem told Aftenposten. “We found indications that outdoor activity has a better health effect than that from exercising indoors.” Outdoor activist Børge Ousland, who’s been on several polar expeditions, wasn’t surprised.

“The most important thing is harmony between body and soul,” Ousland told Aftenposten. “You can work out at a gym, and that’s good, but that only effects our body, not your soul.” Fresh air, outdoor scenery and simply getting away from crowds of people and ringing telephones can relax the mind (Norwegians often call it mental hygiene) and put life in perspective, said Ousland, who said he uses the outdoors for meditation.

Skies were clearing over Oslo on Friday morning and while more snow was expected over most of central and southern Norway on Saturday, the sun was due to emerge on Sunday, and ski trails would be groomed.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
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