Over the last few months, Scandinavian trends have been making quite a statement here in the US. First, there was hygge (pronounced hoo-gah), the Danish word for the cozy feels that can make everyday moments special. Hygge exploded on Pinterest, flooding our feeds with homey design inspo and Scandinavian-inspired comfort foods that we couldn’t wait to try. After hygge, we learned about lagom (pronounced lar-gom), which takes a more minimalist approach to interiors and a more balanced approach to living. And if you thought you’d maxed out on Scandinavian words in your vocabulary, you’d be wrong. We have a new one to fill you in on — and while it may be less effective than hygge and lagom from a design perspective, it may help you stick to your wellness-focused goals and become the healthiest possible you.

couple outdoors

Meet friluftsliv (pronounced free-loofts-liv), a concept of Swedish and Norwegian descent that directly translates as “free air life.” While this super-fun-to-say word may be new to us, it’s been part of Scandinavian culture for decades. Swedes and Norwegians experience fresh air and the outdoors as a natural part of their daily routine. “Friluftsliv allows [them] to create a balanced way of living, where less time can be spent in sweaty gyms or in spinning class, and more time can be spent enjoying the fun things in life, making them just that extra bit happier and healthier,” says Frida Harju, in-house nutritionist at Swedish health app Lifesum.

The Scandinavian people who have been living the friluftsliv life for years have already proven that they have plenty to teach us. Countries in this region regularly index among the world’s healthiest and most content nations. As with hygge and lagom, we’re all ears about how we can use the principles of friluftsliv to optimize our own lives. We asked Harju (who, in addition to being a health expert, is a Swede herself!) for some tips on how to incorporate this new-to-us trend. Read on for her insights!


1. Get out of your routine. Friluftsliv is about experiencing fresh air and nature, and an important parallel to that is engaging in active hobbies. Look for opportunities to switch up your tried-and-true gym routine with new activities that will get your body moving outdoors, like skiing, hiking, playing a casual game of soccer with friends, or lacing up your sneakers and spending the day exploring your city on foot.

2. Make your next vacation an active one. According to Harju, many Swedes prefer active vacations (like skiing excursions) to lazy beach getaways, so switching up your normal vacation is a great way to incorporate friluftsliv into your life. There are plenty of adventurous trips out there to check out! If you’re strictly a spa and poolside girl, though, it doesn’t mean you can’t reap any of the benefits of friluftsliv. “Make sure to make the most of any surrounding nature by going on long walks in the forest, swimming in a beautiful lake, or hiking up a hill to enjoy a pretty view,” Frida says.

3. Shift your social life. Consider how you might be able to spend your free time differently on the weekends. While we totally understand the temptation to orient your social life around happy hours and wine night with the girls, mixing things up by spending more time being active outside with pals is an easy way to boost your wellness. “Before hitting the bar, it is likely that you will find the Swedes outdoors, hanging out with friends, doing activities that are not in any way associated with alcohol,” Harju says.


4. Wear layers. If your response to all of this is, “But it’s cold outside!” we have some news for you: It’s really cold in Sweden too! Harju recalls an old expression that she and her fellow Swedes heard as children: “There is no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing.” This saying is deeply rooted in friluftsliv, so throw on another jacket and get moving!

5. Be active every day. “Friluftsliv does not only involve forests and berry picking,” Harju says. “The concept also includes Swedes trusting their bodies to be their best possible tools for getting around.” To truly live the friluftsliv way, you need to make movement a natural part of the way you live your life. Opt out of ordering takeout and walk a few blocks to grab dinner, park your car a little farther from the grocery store, or take the stairs instead of the elevator. These small changes can have a big impact on your overall health.

6. Eat as nature intended. Even if you can’t pick all your own fruit and catch all your own fish, you can still incorporate these principles at the supermarket. “Ask yourself whether or not the products that you buy could have been picked up in the nature in the country where you live,” Harju suggests. Buy seasonal produce and support local food retailers as often as possible to ensure that you’re eating according to the friluftsliv way.

How are you already incorporating friluftsliv in your life? Tweet us @BritandCo!

(Photos via Getty)