It’s an endless torment for nature lovers in Spain deciding on where to have their ‘Stay-Cation’. Are you a ‘Beach Babe’ or ‘Mountain Ranger’?
If you’re finding it hard to choose, then you’ll be pleased to know that science has figured out the answer.
The general assumption is that beach holidays are about relaxation and mountain trips are about physical activity. But there’s so much more to it than that.
Anyone who has spent time at the beach knows that the beach is the perfect stress reliever. The Greek physician, Hippocrates, created a word, Thalassotherapy, for the sensation you get from being by the sea. Science has even proven that a day at the beach can lead to increased mood, better sleep, and a general feeling of bliss.
A sunny day at the beach increases Vitamin D production in your body. Science tells us that Vitamin D is an essential ingredient for healthy skin and bones. It also boosts your immune system and general mood.
The saltwater is a natural saline, and that can clear your sinuses. This can fight infection, allergies, and general sinus issues. The minerals in saltwater are great for your skin and the sand can help with exfoliation. It’s like the perfect natural health spa!
Recent studies also found that sea air is full of negative ions, which is a good thing, despite how it sounds. Negative ions help our bodies absorb oxygen better and help balance levels of serotonin. Serotonin is a chemical that has a wide variety of functions in the human body. It is sometimes called the happy chemical because it contributes to wellbeing and happiness.
There is even one study by the Barcelona Institute for Global Health that showed that exposure to ‘blue space’ like bodies of water, had a better effect on mood than exposure to ‘green space’ like parks and trees.
By now you may be convinced that a relaxing beach trip is the best thing you can do for mind and body.
BUT…before you pack your swimsuit and shades wait to hear what scientists have to say about the mountains.
There are so many health benefits from taking a holiday among the beautiful mountains. High altitudes have been shown to have positive effects on everything from muscle building to fighting obesity.
Not only does the high altitude have a positive effect on your metabolism, but it also reduces appetite and increases the feeling of being satisfied after eating. So without increasing your exercise activity you can eat the same and still lose weight.
Higher altitudes also lower the risk of heart disease. At high altitude, the lower oxygen levels force the body to produce new blood vessels that increase blood flow to the heart.
Mountain air has less pollution which, not surprisingly, has a positive impact on health. Spending time in the mountains has shown to be beneficial for people with asthma or other respiratory problems. Furthermore, the scent of pine and lavender, which can be found in the mountains, has a calming effect, reducing depression and stress.
Compared to the beach holidays, mountain trips do tend to be more active. Even a gentle walk will take in declines and inclines, and gravity has got to be one of the best personal trainers.
Mountain biking has all the benefits of mountain walking plus the adrenaline hit that results from overcoming fear.
By forcing ourselves to embrace fear with extreme sports, increases our sense of fulfilment and achievement and improve our ability to face other life challenges.
Mountains are themselves physical challenges. Most of us know the sense of accomplishment that comes with climbing a mountain.
The boost you get from the exercise, coupled with the accomplishment, plus the view when you get there – it’s really very hard to beat.
Researchers offer strong evidence that the beach is great for our health and our mental well-being. At the same time, other studies, clearly show time in the mountains can transform the body and mind.
But what if there was another option? What if you could go on a holiday where you get the benefits of the beach and the benefits of the mountains? Do such places even exist?
Yes, they do, and they exist here in sunny Spain. Nerja as an example sits at the foothills of the Sierra Almijara Mountain Range and offers 8km of beaches with clear shallow waters.
So, pack a bikini, and pack your hiking boots for a ‘Stay-Cation’ to improve your mental and physical health right here in Spain.