In his birthday week, President of the Republic of Finland Sauli Niinistö challenged Finnish people to exercise and have discussions. During a walking event on Sunday 27 August, the President, together with hundreds of participants, walked around Töölönlahti Bay in Helsinki, engaging in discussions on various issues of current interest.
The aim of the event was to challenge Finns to exercise and interact with each other. During the walk, there was plenty of time to exchange ideas among the participants.
After the walk, President Niinistö told the media that he was concerned about the deterioration of both the health of Finns and the atmosphere of discussion. “The disruption of social interaction during Covid taught people to express themselves in writing and on a screen, causing the use of language to evolve in the wrong direction. It is perhaps easier to make oneself understood face to face, or at least to find out that I think one way and you might think another way, but we can still have a conversation.”
According to the president, you do not need to share the same opinion to have a discussion. But it is important to try to understand that someone thinks differently from you. And understanding does not mean accepting, although sometimes you may even find some common ground.
The President also pointed out that it is easy to combine exercise and discussion. “Many people have sports hobbies, for example, they participate in team games. Then, of course, there are opportunities for interaction. But even for those who are not so organized, walking is excellent. I think it is a good idea to ask a neighbour you do not know so well on a walk, or the colleague at work you rarely talk to”, he suggested.
According to the President, one way to get Finns to exercise more would be to make them realize that exercise does not require a separate place or arena to go to. Moreover, you should only set goals and demands on yourself.
People have participated in the exercise challenge in different ways around Finland. For example, cities and municipalities have actively challenged each other and organised various exercise-related events.