Building an active life in Spain

People walk on mountain trails in Spain

Considered one of the most physically active countries in the world, Spain occupies #7 in the World Health Organization (WHO) ranking for the intensity of physical activity per week.

The government initiatives

The data published in 2023 by Euronews shows the efforts of the country in investing in programmes and facilities to engage the residents in physical activity.

The Ministry of Health and the Spanish Federation of Municipalities and Provinces started implementing, since 2017, the app Localiza Salud, which provides information about the availability of resources and activities in municipalities that contribute to health and well-being is used by 360 local entities, with over 17,000 health-promoting resources.

Spain’s natural resources

Beyond governmental efforts, Spain’s natural beauty has an essential play in promoting an active lifestyle. From beautiful beaches to adventures, mountains and green city parks, the country offers a diverse playground for all types of outdoor activities.

The Polish Kamilla Ptaszyńska, 30, says that Spain provides many facilities for all kinds of sports: “Personally I love hiking. Living on the coast allows me to escape to the mountains every weekend and a good hike. For everyone who loves riding a bike – there are a lot of amazing bike routes with breathtaking views.”

The popularity of sports in Spain goes beyond the hiking and the famous football. When it comes to physical activity and creating a health social life routine, for Ptaszyńska, there is another popular winner. “I personally recommend trying the very popular sport in Spain – paddle tennis. It’s much easier than classic tennis and very fun,” she said.

The positive health outcomes

The benefits of Spain’s active lifestyle are shared for many residents. One reader, who has been suffering from severe Arthrosis, commented on the Euro Weekly News Facebook Page: “In Austria I could not sleep without painkillers and bought loads of Voltadol Gel etc. Rarely need any of those kind of meds since I immigrated. The constant warm, dry climate we enjoy at the Canary Islands year round is a true blessing for people like me!”

Another reader also added, “I’ve lost 1.5 stone! […] the Spanish health service is financing fortnightly injections at €500 a pop. For me it’s a no brainer living in this beautiful place.”

Summer heat disadvantages

Despite these advantages, Spain’s warm climate presents challenges, particularly during hot summers. While the weather often motivates residents to enjoy outdoor activities like beach walks or runs, it can also discourage them due to extreme heat.

Ptaszyńska says this is the only drawback about living in Spain. “The only disadvantage is the very hot summer so you have to plan very well what time you are going for a bike or for a run to just not die from the heat,” she said.

Expatriates like Kamilla Ptaszyńska highlight the diverse opportunities available, from audacious hikes to accessible sports like paddle tennis. Despite the challenges caused by hot summers, Spain’s charm remains strong, offering a vibrant lifestyle that attracts expatriates and immigrants seeking a healthy and active life in Spain.

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Written by

Talyta Franca

Talyta Franca, Class 2026, Northwestern University in Qatar.