Living a Healthy and Active Lifestyle on the Costa Blanca in Spain
Living a healthy and active lifestyle on the Costa Blanca in Spain is not difficult at all. It truly is a way of life. Here in Spain, most folks enjoy a good walk with their dog or family. In fact, they do it every day because almost everyone has a dog. Yet dog or no dog, getting out for a walk is part of their routine and they consider it to be entertaining and social.
It’s no wonder that you can hear the conversations coming down the sidewalk before you even see the actual people talking. Men and women will have full-on conversations not only walking but as they run and cycle together. To my point, the Spanish people’s lives are very active, healthy and happy.
Living here myself now, I want to share with you some suggestions for how to enjoy the healthy and active lifestyle on the Costa Blanca in Spain. Whether you’re visiting for the short term, long term, or living here, it will contribute to your health and happiness.
Spain Ranked the Healthiest Country
Spain was ranked recently as the healthiest country and it will soon claim the world’s longest life expectancy. The Spanish lifestyle is far from sedentary. With the great food, fresh air and sense of community it’s no wonder that most people that visit Spain would want to live here or retire here permanently.
The afternoon siesta/power nap added to the mix is definitely a big part of it all. Good sleep, fresh local quality food, low-stress, and good friends… What else would you want? The Spanish Med has all the above.
I love my work and will probably never retire, but I will take a break. Daily I have set aside time to get out, away from the screen and be active. I try to stay physically and mentally healthy. It’s not that hard to do when the beautiful weather where we live here in the Costa Blanca, beckons. There are so many options to keep you busy and inspired. I switch up my daily ventures every day.
Elements of a Healthy and Active Lifestyle on the Costa Blanca in Spain
Above Image – A view of Denia from the mountain Montgo.
I will not discuss the option of going to a gym! They have indoor workout gyms here, but I just don’t get it – there are so many things to do here outside that an indoor gym doesn’t make sense to me. We have the sun, several types of beaches, the mountains, hills and the sea, all of which are amazing.
I do what feels good and it’s not a chore. So every day it’s something new and completely enjoyable. A number of these activities can be combined for diversity or the most enjoyable experience.
One of the most incredible aspects of living on the Spanish Mediterranean is the sea. But that’s not all. Here in Denia, in the Valencian community of the Costa Blanca offers a variety of landscape to enjoy. Whether that be on the land or sea you never have to do the same ‘ol workout every day, which is a great way to stay fit.
Know Your Body
I am definitely not a fitness zealot! As I mentioned I do what makes me happy and feels good. For me, the mix of cardio and high-intensity workouts are the things I look forward to.
Once I get at least 30 minutes into it I’ll do my stretching, which helps avoid possible injury and lessens the recovery time. Plus, it also helps your endocrine system release toxins from your body.
My advice is to do some research for your body type and the area you live, to maximize the type of results you are trying to achieve. Mine is just to feel good and be in nature.
Being Healthy & Active On the Land
Meditation & Yoga on the Costa Blanca
Above Image – At the end of Las Rotas beach in Denia.
Even if you enjoy being focused on tasks and working, it’s still great to break away and still yourself with meditation and yoga. A few of my favorite spots to meditate where I live in Denia are along the rocky shores of Las Rotas and on my neighboring mountain of El Montgo.
A short hike up the slope and you can be in nature and find peace and stillness away from everybody. El Montgo reminds me of the Colorado mountains with the pine scents that waft through the air and the sounds of needles and leaves rustling.
Need to get centered? Get a great massage or enjoy a session of yoga. There are a number of great places in Denia to chose from, depending on your preference. Most studios operate year-round and offer various styles.
Walking & Hiking Along the Costa Blanca
Above Image – The trail to hike Montgo up to the summit.
The trails in the area can go from one extreme to the other. If you’re a gear head there are technical hikes and climbs. El Montgo Natural Park has the Carretera de La Colonia, a trail that you can traverse that will provide a great workout with a spectacular view.
Or if you just want to go for a more leisurely walk, the Denia Via Verde (Green Route) is a common favorite. It’s a straight trek on a vintage railroad line that starts in Denia and stretches all the way to the neighboring town Els Poblets.
Along the Via Verde route, you’ll cross through the orange and almond groves, fincas (estates), and family gardens. Most of these trails are all interlinked and can be traversed on foot or with a bike. Make sure you take plenty of water!
Running When on the Costa Blanca in Spain
Above Image – The Park Les Bassetes in Denia.
Running is a great thing and has some immediate benefits on so many levels. However, it can also be really harsh and literally have an impact on your body over time.
There are many trails here that are loose dirt or designated foot trails only. So you won’t have to run on asphalt or concrete like in some of the larger cities. I really don’t do long sweat sessions.
When I do run I’ll go for about 4km at a really good pace and then sprint that amount to a 25 count limit at least five times. For me, that is a perfect cardio workout that I can do four times a week.
Cycling Around the Costa Blanca
Above Image – Friends and family who visit us love to be active in Denia as well.
Then on the days that I’m not running, I’ll go cycling. There are also many reasons why the area of Denia is a great training region for cyclists. It has some very challenging terrain and good weather.
It’s not unusual to see year-round, large groups of cyclists training with a gear vehicle following them. And casual cyclists can enjoy the abundance of designated bike paths on or off the main streets.
For the most part, motorists are very accommodating and polite about sharing the road. You can also go inland and hit a lot of winding hills, or take on El Montgo with your mountain bike and really get challenged. Always with a helmet!
Above Image – The workout station in Les Bassetes Park in Denia.
I’ll visit the parque saludables and do pushups and pullups, planks, and proper crunches with some of their devices or with a resistance band.
Overall, a good circuit of 25-30 reps and five different sets works for me. If I’m being aggressive I’ll add another circuit.
This is great for your core and with the addition of the running and cycling cardio four or five times a week, you’ll be good to go.
On the Sea
Sailing Along the Costa Blanca
I’m on a boat! Around here, motor yachts are common and so are sailing yachts. Yet sailing on the Mediterranean is truly a life-changing experience and can be very active. Plus you are not polluting the planet when you’re using the wind to push you around.
The Costa Blanca for Wind & Kite Surfing
Above Image – The more popular kitesurfing beach in Denia is at the beginning of Las Marinas and by the Marina Portet.
Then 10-12kms north and south from Denia, you’ll find paddle boarders, windsurfers, and kiteboarders taking advantage of the wind year-round.
The best spots in Denia for this are along the Las Marinas stretch of beaches and at the other end of town, in the small bay of the Marineta Casiana Beach.
Other Great Water Activities on the Costa Blanca in Spain
Above Image – The beautiful path along Las Rotas in Denia.
There are scuba diving sites to investigate and venture into deep water. If you really want to be one with the sea the area Las Rotas is incredible. The stretch can be busy at times but is noted for its amazing views, rock cliffs, and snorkeling.
Las Rotas is also a nature preserve and the fish seem to know this and are very friendly. When you get a chance to snorkel or swim there do not turn it down. You will enjoy yourself. It’s one of my most favorite things to do. You just need a swimsuit (unless you go to the nudist beach at the end of Las Rotas!), goggles, and maybe a towel.
Another activity you can do in the sea which is really low impact is trudging. On the more sandy beaches, you can get in the water so it’s slightly below your waist and walk slowly, or trudge, for as far you like. It’s not uncommon to see some of the local Spaniards doing this, especially the older ones.
On the Plate (or Grill)
Eating Habits in Spain
Above Image – Inside the Mercado Central in Denia.
With the recent advent of UNESCO designating Denia as a Creative City of Gastronomy, the town can really boast that it has good food. And I can agree with that!
I love to eat and cooking is a passion for my family. I am not a glutton and I won’t eat just anything when I’m hungry. I consider eating a living experience and many people here agree with me. Therefore, people are very active and healthy in Denia. Around the city, there are many outdoor parque saludables or healthy parks.
Now, there is, of course, the dominant local Spanish tradition of eating a light breakfast, a large lunch, and then a light dinner late at night. That can work for some people, and obviously for many Spaniards, but the late night eating is especially difficult for my digestive. Yet I’ve found that I can live here and still enjoy my own eating schedule and habits.
I do a modified version of intermittent fasting where for 5-6 days a week, I will not eat for 16-18 hours and I have an eating window of 4-6 hours. Usually, I take off a day per week to eat whatever I want, whenever I want. Although what I do eat is still pretty healthy and natural or organic when possible.
Local Mediterranean Cuisine in Spain
Above Image – The famous Gamba Roja de Denia (Red Prawn of Denia).
Most of the restaurants and cafes around here are serious about their craft. It’s a very competitive industry where if you are sub-par you will not survive. Most of the chefs in the Valencian community are regarded as some of the best in the world. The cuisine can be multicultural and eclectic or simply Spanish.
The interesting thing about Spanish food is that it is a combination of all the influences from the surrounding countries, the cultural history unique to the regions, and the time of year. On the Costa Blanca seafood and rice are the staples. Of course paella comes to mind but I’ll take grilled alcachofas over that any day.
Local Markets on Spain’s Costa Blanca
Above Image – A brightly colored fruit stand in the Mercado Central de Valencia.
The weather is generally pretty warm most of the year and always sunny, which is ideal for enjoying the local markets. We have outdoor fresh produce markets in Denia every Friday and the vendors rotate to other cities and towns in the area every day of the week. Meaning, the fruits and vegetables are sold fresh until they are gone.
It’s very rare to get anything bad from these markets. Plus each town has its own mercado central, or main market, where you can find more fruit and vegetable stands, butchers and specialty shops, and other great essentials all in one place.
Above Image – Our favorite olive counter in the Mercado Central de Valencia.
The Mercado Central of Valencia, in the city’s ciutat vella (Valencian for the old town), is one of the most recognizable examples of 20th century Valencia architecture. It is one of Europe’s largest markets specializing in almost everything Spanish, and especially Valencian.
I had the privilege of living a stone’s throw away for several months and immediately became a student of Spanish cuisine. And I ate a lot of olives.
Creating Your Lifestyle on the Costa Blanca in Spain
Normally, Amalia and I are pretty socially active on the weekends, so I am not incredibly strict with my regimen. I have simply found a groove that works for me being healthy and happy.
It looks like most people here like this lifestyle. Living an active, low-stress, sun-soaked lifestyle on the Spanish Mediterranean is an incredible way to live and to enjoy Spain.
How are you healthy and active when traveling or where you live abroad? Have you enjoyed Spain’s Mediterranean Coast or are you thinking of living here? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.