Article by Victoria Wood
Life in Marbella has so much to offer, if we take the opportunities available to us we could very well find that this is one of the healthiest places to live in the world.
The Lancet is among the world’s oldest and best-known general medical journals. They recently published a huge amount of key health data covering 20 years of research, between 1990 and 2010, that looked at 16 European countries (plus the USA, Australia and Canada) in detail, pinpointing the healthiest places to live. The research clearly indicated that Spain is not only the healthiest place to live in Europe, but the healthiest place to live in the world.
Here’s the top 10 in Europe:
In Spain you can expect to have 70.9 years of healthy living, and a life expectancy of 81.4 years which is two years longer than people living in the UK.
Here’s the top 10 in the world:
The Mediterranean diet for one thing, has been globally recognised as one of the healthiest western diets out there. Fresh fish and seafood, olive oils, fresh local fruits and vegetables, pulses and legumes all serve to make this diet top of the list. All the elements of the diet combined help to lower inflammation in the body, improve blood vessel function and reduce the risk of metabolic syndrome and diabetes. It also serves to maintain heart health as well as brain function being associated with less cognitive decline, reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease, and better memory and executive function. Research by University College London showed that people who follow Mediterranean diets may be less likely to develop depression.
It is not a new fangled fad diet nor does it hone in on superfoods as key components, it is the inclusion of all the necessary food groups and a wide range of them that consistently makes this the chosen one. Oh, and did I mention that a glass of red wine here and there is considered part of the journey?
The countryside in the Marbella and surrounding regions is peppered with walking and hiking trails with a wide range of difficulty levels to suit all ages and abilities. Try hiking up the iconic La Concha mountain which stands as the most recognised landmark in the area, or a walk in the hills overlooking the entire coastline.
Runners and cyclists are in for a treat, the endless promenades that line the sandy beaches are some of the finest jogging/cycling tracks you’ll find anywhere, nothing beats getting out in the cool morning sun, running next to glistening water of the Mediterranean. For the more discerning there is an abundance of mountainous areas to navigate, or even some soft-sand running to really feel the burn.
Golf enthusiasts probably already know that the Costa del Sol – or Costa del Golf – as it is often called – has the largest concentration of golf courses anywhere in Europe with 70 courses between Sotogrande and Torre del Mar.
A couple of hours away lies the beautiful Sierra Nevada which offers a stunning setting for hiking during the summer months and a decent amount of various runs during ski season. The Sierra Nevada Ski Station, boasting thirty lifts and around 100 pistes, is based in the province of Granada on the northwestern slopes of Veleta, and boasts its position as the most southerly in Europe as well as being the third highest peak in Spain.
Surfing on the Med is not a guaranteed occurrence but quite often there are very decent waves in the regions near to Tarifa in Cadíz. Here you will also find one of the top destinations in the world for kite surfing and windsurfing. The Mediterranean will however provide you with the perfect conditions for stand up paddle boarding all year round, an excellent sport for coordination and core strength.
Swimming is considered one of the best all-round sports for our health and can be achieved here on the southern coast of Spain practically all year round. The sea being an obvious choice (you may opt for a light wetsuit in the winter months) as well as the abundance of private or communal pools, many of them heated in the winter months.
Rock climbers will not be disappointed as Andalucía offers an extensive range of sites including the famous El Chorro gorge. Others include Desplomilandia, Torcal de Antequera and Archidona, Turon, San Bartolo, Benaocaz, and Grazalema. In Granada alone there are over 2,000 routes to be explored across all levels of the sport.
In Marbella and the surrounding regions of Málaga and Cádiz there are countless sporting events and clubs that anyone can sign up for; triathlons, swimming races, cycling races, marathons, half marathons, 10km runs, trekking clubs, iron man, climbing, and more.
And of course, we can’t neglect to mention that the sun shines most of the year which gives us an endless supply of vitamin D. The sunshine vitamin as it is otherwise known is imperative to our wellbeing yet not particularly available via diet. To catch a few rays on one’s skin each day (skin needs to be sun protection and clothing free to be able to absorb the vitamins) is invaluable in providing us with this essential vitamin.
“Mañana” might be a long standing joke when it comes to getting things done but the Spanish don’t take it personally. The highly stressed environment that most northern European countries are used to is just not present in southern Spain. It’s more normal in the capital, Madrid, but the south is not into stress at all. The bottom line here is “relax, it will get done eventually”. This kind of attitude is good for your health.
Sunshine, good diet, plenty of exercise, loads of fresh air and virtually zero stress contribute hugely to our mental health and happiness. Taking all this into account it is hardly surprising that Spain is the healthiest place to live.
And it’s not just the best place to live now – it gets better: according to research published by the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, Spain is still expected to have the highest life expectancy of any country in the world by 2040, with a predicted average lifespan of 85.8 years. Viva España!