The Mediterranean diet, rich in heart-healthy olive oil, vegetables and wine, has long contributed to Spain’s long-lived population (averaging 82.8). But Spain has another longevity secret up its sleeve: the siesta.
“People think all the Spaniards are doing la siesta when the shops are closed between 2:00 and 5:00, but it is simply how the working shift is organised,” said Miquel Àngel Diez i Besora from Barcelona and Gray Line tour guide. “If you have a continuous shift and just a half an hour break for lunch, then you eat a quick takeaway. On the contrary, if you are forced to stop for two or three hours, then you go home or go to a restaurant where you can sit down, eat two courses and dessert, and have time enough to digest well, it’s going to be healthier than a takeaway.”
The density of Spanish cities also gets people moving more, since shops and restaurants all tend to be within walking distance of most people’s residences.
“When I moved to Barcelona from Moscow, I noticed that people here favour walking or biking, even walking few blocks to take public transport instead of using their own vehicles,” said Marina Manasyan, co-founder of Barcelona Eat Local Food Tours. “You get your cells oxygenated and you reduce your carbon footprint.”