With coastlines on both the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea, long golden beaches and snow capped mountains, and lush verdant landscapes in between, there’s a multitude of reasons to love life in Andalucia.
As you would probably guess from its name, the Costa del Sol has, on average, 320 days of sunshine per year. That’s a lot of Vitamin D!
Most people are now fully aware of the dangers of excessive exposure to the sun but topping up Vitamin D levels helps the body’s autoimmune system making it more able to fight disease and prevent major health issues.
Summers in Andalucia can reach over 40oc inland so it’s important to remember to keep topping up the sunscreen – sunburn is definitely not cool.
There can’t be many pleasures greater than sitting in a chiringuito on a sunny summer’s afternoon eating fresh sardines straight from the grill. Or snacking on a cone of shrimps from a beach vendor.
It’s not just the seafood that’s in abundance here as a trip to any market will provide you with all the fresh fruit and vegetables you could wish for – from ripe avocados and tomatoes to juicy oranges and everything in between.
Of course it’s impossible to talk about Spain without mentioning olives. Extra Virgin olive oil is one of the staples of a Mediterranean diet and has a whole host of health benefits, not least that it’s a rich source of antioxidants and monounsaturated fats both of which are believed to protect your cardiovascular health.
The benefits of a daily tipple of red wine have long been recognised but what about Andalucia’s most famous liquid export – sherry?
Produced in the ‘Sherry Triangle’ of Jerez de la Frontera, Sanlucar de Barrameda and El Puerto do Santa Maria, researchers at the University of Seville found that a small daily sherry could offer protection from coronary artery disease. In tests it was found that drinking sherry increased the body’s production of ‘good’ cholesterol while reducing the ‘bad’ cholesterol. Make mine an Oloroso!
From kitesurfing in Tarifa on the Costa de la Luz to skiing in the Sierra Nevada, Andalucia has something for everyone.
For walkers the Senda Litoral de Malaga (Malaga Coastal Path), once fully complete, will stretch 160km from Manilva to Nerja.
If you prefer running then the Sherry Marathon in Jerez is a race with a difference. Winding its way through the vineyards and bodegas of Jerez it offers a little extra at refreshment stands in the way of sherry and a selection of breads, cheeses and meats. Beats Gatorade any day!
The mountains are perfect for hiking, biking and horse riding while the coastline is a paradise for watersports whether that’s kayaking, paddle boarding or just snorkelling in the warmth of the Med.
This is one of my favourite Spanish traditions – who doesn’t love the idea of an afternoon nap?
The Spanish Society of Primary Care Physicians believe that a short sleep after lunch (ideally no longer than half an hour) has many benefits including reducing stress, improving cardiovascular function, and increasing memory and alertness. I can definitely buy in to that!
There’s something about being near the ocean that acts as a mood boost and instantly lifts your spirits and Andalucia has around 1,000km of coastline from the wild beauty of the Costa de la Luz to the family friendly beaches of the Costa del Sol.
Doctors have been aware of the health benefits of the sea for centuries now and frequently sent patients to the bracing seaside resorts of Victorian England for restorative purposes.
The vitamins and minerals in seawater have antibacterial properties and it’s not just the water itself which is good for you – the negative ions in sea air speed up the absorption of oxygen and balance serotonin levels acting as mood and stress busters.