Rio de Janeiro has become an international pioneer in its commitment to exercise, health and mental well-being.
THINK RIOuncovers fitness regimes, recreations, tips and techniques, from Carioca jogging to indoor and outdoor gyms, yoga, meditation, and the latest nutritional tips and trends. Spas, retreats, supplements and personal care are explored, bringing residents and visitors cutting edge insight into how to nurture and develop both body and mind.
Health, outdoor living, and socialization
Lifestyle in Rio de Janeiro is as diverse as the nature that blesses the city and as broad as the culture that enriches it.
There are over 160 neighborhoods in the city, each with its own geographical and urban characteristics, shaping the lifestyle of Cariocas accordingly - while some districts are home to spectacular beaches, other parts of the city have atlantic rainforest, landmark architecture, or gorgeous city parks to be proud of.
Mountains, beaches, forests and lakes entwine with diversity and traditions tracing back to Indigenous peoples and spanning widely to embrace African and European heritage, allowing Cariocas to enjoy the city in a thousand ways.
Beyond the world famous image of a laid-back and relaxed outdoor lifestyle, Carioca living includes a wide range of other aspects reaching deep in the traditional cultural roots of the population, and ever expanding and developing with the globalization of the city and of Brazil.
Rio de Janeiro's wonderful array of natural landscapes and delightfully warm climate, as well as a profoundly social nature, entice residents to spend their time outdoors and revel in the beauty of the city and the pleasant company of others - a statement to the unique sociability and friendliness of Cariocas.
Common to all activities, is a clear emphasis on socialization and the true enjoyment of life and appreciation for all its facets, with a definite propensity for the outdoors.
Further to everything a big city has to offer, lifestyle in Rio de Janeiro includes enviable mix of outdoor activities, healthy living, informal and improvised social gatherings, sports practice, and charming pastimes such as fishing and kite flying.
In appreciation of the population's engagement with their natural surroundings and penchant for socializing, the government has supported and enhanced fitness practices across the city through events, competitions and the creation of recreational spaces and resources.
Several private enterprises also look to cater to the active and outdoor nature of inhabitants and contribute by offering classes and activities to improve fitness and enhance skills, keeping abreast of the latest world trends while giving it a Carioca spin.
Nature directly affects lifestyle in Rio de Janeiro - An impressive portion of the city's population is passionate about interacting with their natural surroundings: the unique assortment of urban beaches, sea-side lagoons, natural parks, gardens, forests, and rocky mountains.
The warm climate makes sports and fitness recreations all the more appealing and at every park and beach one can find armies of Cariocas running, cycling, exercising and playing sports.
Residents and visitors of the city regularly make excursions up into the hills that enrich the great metropolitan parks such as the 'parque da tijuca' or the 'parque da pedra branca', scrambling through woods and up rocks to enjoy sensational views of the city around and below.
Long bicycle rides are taken around the several metropolitan lagoons such as the famous 'lagoa rodrigo de freitas' or along the dozens of beaches, while swimmers, sailors and surfers populate the two bays and the oceanic waters.
Fisherman line most coastal stretches and football, volleyball and fitness exercises are conducted on sandy stretches in the warm outdoors.
Starting at sunrise and continuing well after sunset, all the main beaches in the city are home to people exercising or gathering in teams to play and excercise - as much as the elderly enjoy the early hours of the day, many after-school organizations teach soccer and volley ball to children of all ages.
Welcoming sports and exercises from many parts of the world, yoga is nowadays widely considered one of the most nourishing activities for body and mind and popular classes can be found at gyms, beaches and parks across Rio - With its combination of skilled physical manoeuvres and tranquil meditation it is now practiced even on floating stand-up surf boards surrounded by water.
The deep connection to nature, health, and the desire to fully enjoy life made it so that many working commuters get to their office locations in sporting outfits, incorporating a work-out in their daily routines and making the best out of a necessity.
Typically, many workers leave their formal attires at their place of employment, so that no time is wasted and outdoor activities can be enjoyed on their way to, and after work.
Warm weather means outdoor social activities - Cariocas typically gather outdoors, in squares, bars, parks and beaches, making them uniquely open to new people and places, may that be for cultural or sporting events, or for the characteristic week-end barbeque part of most Carioca families.
This affinity with the outdoors has nursed a strong awareness of the weather – many Cariocas are able to predict with impressive precision if clouds and rain are approaching.
Lifestyle and cultural practices developed and merged into each other from both connection with nature and heritage - the effect can be seen in the most diverse of ways, in activities ranging from recreational fishing and exercising to music enjoyment and artistic celebrations.
Heritage has shaped both the history of the city, and the way its residents enjoy it - music was integrated in many aspects of city life, becoming part of religious celebrations, city-sponsored concerts and live performances as much as random beach days via a boom-box on the sand.
Fresh food is a vital part of local lifestyle - A charming and longstanding feature of the weekly Carioca routine is shopping for groceries at a local fair, where customers connect directly with the produce of their land.
Every neighbourhood has at least one weekly fruit and vegetable market, where customers amble along aisles selecting the very finest ingredients at reasonable prices, tasting delicious samples and chatting cheerfully with other locals and merchants.
Everyday activities and practices have also been determined and influenced by the characteristic Carioca syncretism - Some pastimes date back to early indigenous civilizations, while other activities, habits and foods derive from European settlers and Afro-Brazilian populations.
Fishing communities have existed since before Portuguese colonization of Brazil, while the important martial art of 'capoeira' and many spiritual affiliations have their origin in African traditions.
Similarly, Rio de Janeiro has a great wealth of traditional national cuisine with roots in a variety of cultural backgrounds.
The government is actively engaged in facilitating Cariocas' strong relationship with their surroundings, and in ensuring that cultural heritage is preserved - both educational campaigns and modern infrastructure are part of the efforts directed at improving and fostering a healthy lifestyle.
In recent years, public institutions have implemented a creative variety of programs to increase awareness, motivation to promote healthy and positive lifestyle choices.
As lifestyle is the result of many concurring factors, including healthy food consumption, the national government released a set of dietary guidelines, offering sage advice on what to eat, the best way to prepare dishes, and how to best enjoy it.
The guidelines advocate the use of natural ingredients, the avoidance of industrial processing, and the cultivation of a shared culinary culture, where families buy, cook and enjoy food together - this innovative approach inextricably linked lifestyle with diet and healthy living, a cornerstone of Carioca lifestyle.
Rio de Janeiro's state government routinely sponsors advertising campaigns, as well as a variety of free outdoor gyms and wide-scale competitions and activities across the city, emphasizing the broad range of gorgeous natural spaces and man-made structures freely available to all Cariocas.
Impressive city-wide bicycle paths have been built, as well as new skate parks, to democratize access to public spaces and promote diverse fitness activities - most beaches is Rio de Janeiro are equipped with small gyms free to use, while many districts across town are home to public and modern open-air gyms for the elderly.
Adding to to the city-sponsored bicycle paths, private enterprises have made available public bicycles that can be rented and dropped off very easily across Rio de Janeiro, further promoting active lifestyle and the democratization of spaces.
A number of independent enterprises offer classes and group activities, aware of Cariocas' desire to engage with their surroundings and share their experiences with one another.
Dance, music, cooking, martial art and surfing lessons act as a way of tapping into a rich and vibrant history and adding to personal repertoires.
The city's resplendent natural offerings, coupled with its continual influx of practices from across the world, have formed a rich tapestry of cultural traditions and identities; allowing a wide variety of Carioca lifestyles that, while seemingly different, all celebrate love for life and the importance of others.