These days, it’s difficult to tell if America is still the greatest country in the world or one that has slipped from its pedestal. Perhaps it depends upon the measuring criteria. It is widely documented that the U.S. spends more on health care than any other country, with a total bill of $3.2 trillion last year.1
Despite this tremendous investment in health care, an analysis of 14 developed nations showed life expectancies for people at age 65 are shorter in the United States. American women ranked last in longevity among the 14 developed countries, and men were second to last. Some experts suggest this is due to universal health care and more generous retirement benefits offered in other developed countries.2
Cost, particularly during retirement, may be a factor in how well health is maintained during the later years in life. If you’re considering creating a retirement income strategy that includes planning for potentially increasing health care costs in retirement, we can introduce you to various insurance product options.
While the federal government considers different ways to reform America’s health care delivery and payment system, it’s worth considering what other countries do to produce better results. On an individual basis, we can each learn new ways of managing our own health by considering tips from other countries.
For example, the Dutch are big on bicycling. The average citizen bikes more than 600 miles a year — not just for recreation, but also to and from work. As a result of this constant source of exercise, fewer call in sick to work, and studies show that bikers tend to have more energy and greater power of concentration than non-bikers.3
The Chinese practice Taoism, which involves taking mental and physical timeouts throughout the day to breathe deeply and reflect quietly. This philosophy is one of the basic tenets of today’s cognitive therapy that is used to treat depression, anxiety, stress, trauma and even chronic pain.4
In Finland, one of the national pastimes is relaxing in a sauna, which is believed to boost the immune system and cardiovascular endurance. The country boasts more than one sauna per every five people.5
Chopsticks used in many Asian cultures are known to slow down the pace of eating, which not only helps the body’s digestive system but tends to reduce the amount of food consumed.6
Yoga is a popular activity in India. Studies show that practicing yoga on a regular basis can improve circulation, flexibility, strength, posture and help clear the mind, reduce stress, ease pain and boost immunity. Another positive health influence in India is the use of various spices and herbs, including turmeric, ginger, chili peppers, saffron and cardamom.7
The French are considered somewhat of a mystery for their longevity and relative good health considering their love of wine, cheese and rich sauces. However, experts say they tend to stay slim because they eat small portions over long meals, resist snacking and stop eating when they feel full.8
One author has engaged in a project called Blue Zones, attempting to determine patterns among locales throughout the world that have high concentrations of centenarians, people who live to 100. In general terms, the most common pattern appears to be to “drink coffee for breakfast, tea in the afternoon, wine at 5 p.m.”9
Content prepared by Kara Stefan Communications
1 Carolyn Y. Johnson. The Washington Post. Dec. 27, 2016. “The U.S. spends more on health care than any other country. Here’s what we’re buying.” https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2016/12/27/the-u-s-spends-more-on-health-care-than-any-other-country-heres-what-were-buying/?utm_term=.b4bf88dc0213. Accessed Feb. 12, 2017.
2 Financial Planning. Jan. 11, 2017. “How long do U.S. retirees live compared to peers in other countries?” http://www.financial-planning.com/news/how-long-do-us-retirees-live-compared-to-peers-in-other-countries. Accessed Feb. 12, 2017.
3 P. Murali Doraiswamy, M.D.. Thrive Global. Nov. 30, 2016. “7 Well-Being Tips From Around the World… and the Surprising Science Behind Them.” https://journal.thriveglobal.com/7-well-being-tips-from-around-the-world-and-the-surprising-science-behind-them-b06aedeb8ac6#.3fk09m8ew. Accessed Feb. 12, 2017.
6 Integrative Nutrition. April 7, 2015. “7 Health Tips From Around the World.” http://www.integrativenutrition.com/blog/2015/04/7-health-tips-from-around-the-world. Accessed Feb. 12, 2017.
7 Jennifer Mulder. The Health Sessions. 2017. “The 8 Best Health Tips From Around the World.” http://thehealthsessions.com/best-health-tips-from-around-the-world/. Accessed Feb. 12, 2017.
8 Naomi Coleman. DailyMail. 2017. “Diet tips from around the world.” http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-64420/Diet-tips-world.html. Accessed Feb. 12, 2017.
9 Eliza Barclay. NPR. Apr. 28, 2016. “Tea Tuesdays: Tea-Drinking Tips For A Longer Life.” http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2015/04/28/400156651/tea-tuesdays-tea-drinking-tips-for-a-longer-life. Accessed Feb. 12, 2017.
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