I have been living in Holland for 2,5 years. The first time when I visited Eindhoven in 2003 for an international student conference I was charmed by the small houses, bikes everywhere and even having to bike everywhere myself after a bar crawl with other 424 students. Then, in 2006, I came to Groningen as an exchange student and the charm of riding a bike disappeared with a first fall during an icy trip back to my dorm room.
I am riding my bike again. I take it to work unless it becomes way too cold to pedal even for 15 mins or when it is too icy. I integrated so much that I even own a pair of rain pants and a rain jacket and I also have a bike bag. I am not going to lie, sometimes the thought: “Oh, stupid bike”, does cross my mind, especially that one time when I had a nail in my tyre, but lately I began to appreciate the bike paths and public transport.
Several weeks ago I went to the US to see my best friend during the last school break. I had a blast and it is amazing how beautiful and spacious everything is there. However, there is no way to survive without a car. My friend and I went to the gym while I was visiting and I noticed how hard people work out there and most go to the gym every single day.
Aiming for a healthy body, mind and soul, I work out too, but every day work out is too much for me. Then it got me thinking: this is the only work out most Americans get: at the gym. I came back to this same thought when reading an issue of Women’s Health magazine that stated that because Americans use cars to get by, even a work out in the gym does not give them enough exercise that our bodies were designed for.
So there, the benefit that we have in Europe and especially here in Holland, is the amount of physical activity we do without even noticing it. Is not it great that our lifestyle here allows us to keep fit or at least somewhat contributes to our fitness regime? I think it is awesome and I do appreciate the opportunity to be able to walk, bike, take the bus or train and not having to worry about that lazy Thursday when I skipped a workout.