Places to exercise outdoors in Madrid

outdoor sports in madrid

Places to exercise outdoors in Madrid

The importance of physical activity, especially for health and personal well-being, is well known to the general public and supported by research. If, in addition to exercise, it is practised outdoors and in a natural environment, the evidence indicates that the positive impacts increase and even have synergistic effects.


The most thorough study we have found on this topic was published by the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health in 2019 and is titled Benefits of outdoor sports for society. It identifies a number of benefits related to outdoor sport including: physical and mental health and well-being; education and lifelong learning; active citizenship, including social inclusion; integration, volunteering and community cohesion.

"Benefits of doing sport outdoors

1. Physical health benefits

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In the context of healthy ageing, outdoor sports are associated with reduced disease, improved subjective perception of health and better quality of life. There is evidence that outdoor activities help to prevent the multiple sclerosis and the onset and progression of myopia. In addition, exposure to sunlight helps to maintain the level of vitamin D.

physical sport - cycling

2. Mental health and well-being benefits

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Several research teams highlight the favourable results, for mental health and psychological stability, of being active in the natural environment. In general, green and blue spaces seem to have particularly positive effects, which go beyond the benefits of being physically active in a non-natural environment.

Studies show the influence of sport and outdoor activities on the health and resilience of people living in cities. improved mood, resilience, feelings of revitalisation and positive engagement and restoration of people living in cities.


On the other hand, negative affective states such as stress, depression, anxiety, tension, confusion, anger, loneliness and emotional instability could be reduced through participation in outdoor sports.

Among the positive experiences that people describe when exercising in nature are: pleasure and enjoyment; independence; basic psychological needs for autonomy, competence and affinity; pleasure of achievement, vitality and life force. meditationThe positive experiences that people describe when exercising in nature include: pleasure and enjoyment; independence; basic psychological needs for autonomy, competence and affinity; improved body sensation; improved sense of well-being; improved physical well-being. experiences of fluidity, comfort and intense emotionsimproved bodily sensation; the discovery of the pleasure of achievement, life force and, of course, an intense experience in nature.

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3. Benefits in education and lifelong learning

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Outdoor sports have an impact on people's relationship with nature, facilitating more intense contact with others, with the environment and with oneself. For this reason, they influence the interpersonal as well as intrapersonal developmentwhich includes:

  • Personal and motor skills
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Personal responsibility
  • Mindfulness
  • Spiritual, sensory and aesthetic awareness

In addition, intense contact with nature improves self-knowledge and personal understanding and has a positive impact on self-esteem, self-efficacy and self-fulfilment.

On a personal and group level, outdoor sports often generate situations where teamwork is necessary. This results in increased capacity for communication, cooperation and social interactionbetter relationships; increased responsibility, empathy, commitment and social trust; and greater overall group cohesion.


For children and young people, several studies show that outdoor sports programmes are associated with improved educational performance and increased motivation. This translates into higher achievement for pupils because of improve their sense of purpose and motivation for learning.This translates into higher achievement for pupils as it increases engagement in lessons, academic learning and effectiveness.

And that is not all. Being active in the natural environment not only influences attitudes towards learning, but also cognitive aspects such as brain structure, function and connectivity; intellectual flexibility and problem-solving skills. attention and memory capacitybrain structure, function and connectivity; intellectual flexibility and problem-solving skills.

4. Additional benefits

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Studies indicate that outdoor sports promote physical activity throughout the life cycle. For this reason, they are used to activate sedentary people, promote healthy lifestyles and influence positive attitudes towards physical activity. In this way, people find and maintain an active lifestyle in the long term and show an increased intention to repeat the activity.


Another important aspect is the accessibility for most outdoor sportsThe accessibility of most outdoor sports is another important aspect, as they are predominantly free of charge and have few limitations to participation. In Madrid, outdoor sports facilities are easily accessible, are perceived as a low-cost opportunity, are open to all and are highly valued by citizens.

"The 7 best places in Madrid to do outdoor sport

Big changes and improvements in our state of health start with small steps. To help you get started, here's a selection of the best outdoor spaces in Madrid. seven best outdoor spaces in Madrid:

1. Retiro Park

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parque del retiro - palacio de cristal

It is a green haven in the centre of Madrid which has 125 hectares and more than 15,000 trees.. The places that deserve a special attention are: the Vivacious GardenThe Cecilio Rodríguez Gardens (classicist and with an Andalusian air), the Gardens of the Architect Herrero Palaciosthe Rose Garden (collection of roses) and the French Parterre with the ahuehuete, the oldest tree in Madrid, said to be around 400 years old.

Madrid's Retiro Park offers you many alternatives for practising different sports, such as running, cycling or running. running. The park has remote and less touristy areas where you can run in peace and quiet, especially those furthest away from the entrances, the pond and the Palacio de Cristal. When it's time to put on your running shoes, you'll find all kinds of terrain for runners: dirt, grass, asphalt, stairs... as well as a multitude of flat and hilly areas. Therefore, the site is perfect for planning any type of training.

The same applies if you want to practice cycling. You can take advantage of the cycle lanes which runs from Calle O'Donnell to the Fallen Angel or cycle, with caution, along the different paths that you will find as you enter the park.

There are also areas with bars, rings and supports that allow you to work on static capacity and anaerobic training.

If you want to do sport in company, there are many associations and groups for running, tai chi, skating, fitness, etc. that offer classes in the Retiro. It is also our favourite place because it is very close to our coworking Shed Co. What better way to end your day than going for a walk and doing some exercise in this wonderful park.

2. West Park

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parque del oeste - Madrid

The Parque del Oeste stretches over some 100 hectares between Moncloa and Ciudad Universitaria. 100 hectares between Moncloa and Ciudad Universitaria. It is a green space in the grounds of which is located the Debod Templethe Cable car, the remains of the Moncloa School of Ceramics and the Rose Garden of Ramón Ortiz.

It is a pleasant and huge park, ideal for strolling, playing sports or having a picnic. There are many organisations offering group classes of zumba, total body, cardiobox, balance, core and stretching.. Parking is easy in the immediate vicinity and it is a perfect place to exercise while enjoying the beautiful sunsets.

3. El Capricho Park

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El Capricho Park

It is located in the Alameda de Osuna neighbourhoodin the district of Barajas, in the north-east of the city of Madrid. It was built, by order of the Duchess of Osuna, between 1787 and 1839. It has a surface area of 14 hectares of garden with walking areas and idyllic hidden corners..

It should be noted that this is not a "normal" park, so you are not allowed to enter with bicycles or roller skates and you cannot play ball, eat on the grounds or bring pets. It is an ideal park for take a walk and enjoy the art-filled corners. and unique spaces such as the labyrinth.

4. Dehesa de la Villa

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dehesa de la villa - madrid

The Dehesa de la Villa has been able to conserve its forest character. For this reason, it is the perfect place to disconnect and breathe fresh air while doing sporting activities. This park, located to the northwest of the capital, is a large orchard populated by poplars, willows, elms, cedars, stone pines and Aleppo pines, which coexist alongside squirrels and more than 60 species of birds. Although it has the character of a forest, the Dehesa de la Villa is a great ally for running as it has a circuit with slopes that facilitate aerobic exercise.

The main Dehesa de la Villa circuit

The main running circuit in the Dehesa de la Villa runs along the old path or Paseo del Canalillo, which follows the route of the old water pipes of the Canal de Isabel II. It is a circuit prepared for walking and runningIt starts at the midway point of the climb from the old Dehesa de la Villa road to the Antonio de Nebrija University and the Rafael Alberti Residence. The terrain is sandy, slightly hard. It should be noted that it has a slight slope or cant in the widest sections, between the central part and the sides, which are delimited by a stone drain.

Zone 1: Start (Old Road) - 1,000 metres (Cerro de los Locos)

The initial part of the circuit, which goes from the old road to approximately 1,000 metres, is wider, with the longest straights of the circuit (up to 300 metres). It is called La Tomasa (in reference to a prostitute who was in the area years ago) and runs 800 metres to the first slope leading to the Cerro de los Locos.

In this area, we find the greater variety of landscapes, vegetation and fauna Dehesa de la Villa. On the right side of the circuit, between 300 and 600 metres, there is a bird observatory and the main concentration of free squirrels in the forest. Here there are centenary trees of great beauty and, in general, well cared for and protected.

It is a perfect place to stretch outAfter a workout, with the help of the street furniture: playground equipment, fitness equipment and benches.

Zone 2: 1,000 metres (Cerro de los Locos) - 1,725 metres (End at the gate of the Canal facilities)

The area of the circuit between 1,000 and 1,725 metres is narrower and more twisty. Here there are some buildings, specifically a private house, a centre of the Antonio de Nebrija University, the Rafael Alberti Residence and, at the end, some installations of the Canal de Isabel II.

Other Routes

The Old Dehesa de la Villa Road has two paths separated by trees: a cycle lane and a pleasant dirt track. The route is about 1.600 metres. At its central point is the start of the main circuit and it has a considerable gradient (about 150 metres). The ramps near the middle point, between 600 and 800 metres, and those at the end of the slope, at its junction with Calle de Francos Rodríguez and next to the Nature Interpretation Centre, are particularly steep.

Best times to train

The best times to train daily are early morning, before 9.00 a.m. (at all times of the year) and midday (except in the hot summer months). These are times that fit best before the working day or during the mid-morning break and there are usually fewer people walking around.

At weekends, being a place for walking and with a large number of people, it is more difficult to run comfortably, especially on Sundays at midday. Therefore, on these days, it is advisable to train early or late in the morning.

Tourist and cultural notes

The Dehesa de la Villa is home to some of the most spectacular views in Madrid. some of the most spectacular views of MadridThe views can be enjoyed from its viewpoints on the old road (now closed and converted into a cycle lane) and on the circuit.

Historical references to the origin of this forest speak of it as an extension of the Monte del Pardo and point to the presence, centuries ago, of an abundant fauna that included various types of birds, deer, wild boar and even bears. The Dehesa de la Villa was an important location for the Madrid resistance against the entry of the Nationalist troops during the Spanish Civil War. Civil War. For this reason, numerous vestiges of that period have been preserved, such as trenches and bunkers.

The Dehesa de la Villa has been the setting for some Spanish films The first sequences of the film take place in the upper area of the park and in the Andrés Manjón school, on the corner of Francos Rodríguez and Pirineos streets.

One of the most representative enclaves of the Dehesa de la Villa is the Cerro de los Locos (Hill of the Fools). It was the scene of training sessions for acrobats, gymnasts and boxers in the 1930s. Nowadays, it is still a meeting place for older sportsmen and women, who play fronton on the walls of the mobile phone hut located there. This hill also offers some of the best views of the Sierra Norte de Madrid.

In short, the Dehesa de la Villa is one of the best green areas in Madrid and an excellent place for running or simply for walking.

5. Madrid Río Park

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madrid river park

Along its more than 10 kilometresMadrid Río allows you to exercise, relax on its wide grassy esplanades or enjoy the views from its viewpoints. It is an excellent promenade, next to the Manzanares River, for walking, jogging or cycling all year round. In winter, it is a great option since it is illuminated at night.

One of the main reasons for the success of Madrid Río is that it offers the best facilities in the capital. sports for all ages and has the best facilities in the capital. Its offer of physical activities is one of the pillars of the renovation plan. In addition, its cycling network is approximately 30 kilometres long. and connects with other existing paths to promote mobility.

To the north, Madrid Rio connects from the Puente Rodado, north of the Puente de los Franceses, with the Senda Real, the Anillo Verde Ciclista and the GR-7 trail, which reaches the Sierra de Madrid. To the south, Madrid Rio connects with the Enrique Tierno Galván Park and the Parque Lineal del Manzanares Sur, another large green space that runs parallel to the river to Getafe. In addition to these cycling routes, there are 42 kilometres of pedestrian paths for sports such as running and walking.

In addition, next to the Puente de Praga (Avenida del Manzanares s/n), seven paddle tennis courts and one tennis court have been built, and another six paddle courts have been built on Paseo Marques de Monistrol s/n. They are open from Monday to Sunday from 9:00 am to 10:00 pm.

In one of the loops of the Nudo Sur, on the edge of the Madrid Río area, is one of the star installations of the project: the extreme cycling track, BMX. The complex is equipped with the most advanced technologies for the practice of this Olympic sport. In addition, next to the Toledo Bridge (Avenida del Manzanares, 108), there is an ROC30a climbing wall for climbing at different levels of difficulty.

These are the only extreme sports you can practice. In the Arganzuela park you will find a spectacular skatepark and a learning rink for skateboarders. In this same space, there is an artificial grass installation equipped with two 7-a-side football pitches and an 11-a-side football pitch. For indoor football or basketball, three multi-sports courts have been installed for free use (Calle del Vado s/n, Pasaje de Montserrat s/n and Calle Ricardo Damas s/n).

Finally, fans of rowing and canoeing fans are in luck. The Madrid Río project envisages the construction of a jetty that will allow the practice of this sport between dams 8 and 9.

6. Country House

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country house - madrid

Madrid's sportsmen and women have made of the Casa de Campo their own training temple.Its 1535.52 hectares make it the largest natural space in Madrid. Although it is an urban park, it has a marked forestry character. The variety of ecosystems present in this area makes possible the presence of a great biodiversity of birdlife in the surroundings. It is therefore the perfect place for workers to disconnect and practice their favourite sport.

Madrid's Casa de Campo offers a unique running experience. Its 17 kilometres around the perimeter, with trees, paths, slopes, fauna and vegetation. will make you forget that you are running in Madrid. Many amateur athletes use the park for running, cycling, tennis, football, hiking and swimming. There are also athletics events and, on the lake, canoeing and triathlons.

Most of the facilities are located around the lake, such as the tennis courts, inaugurated in 1969. There is also a jogging circuit, a municipal swimming pool and a bicycle circuit of 11.5 km. The Enrique Otero Cycling Circuit is held on Sundays and holidays from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm.There is also a jogging track, a municipal swimming pool and an 11.5 km cycle track with medical assistance and a bicycle repair van. The route is nine kilometres long with two branches, a flat one of 750 metres and another with ascents and descents of 1,800 metres.

La Tapia

Over the centenary enclosure wall, which allows the entrance and exit of people or cars, we find La Tapia, a path running parallel to the wall This is one of the most famous circuits, a must for any runner training in Madrid. Its 15 kilometres have a reputation for being toughIt is a very popular trail, but it more than makes up for it, with its changing landscapes and its good condition for running on terrains of varying degrees of hardness, depending on the weather. This terrain has seen the following runners pass through its paths and tracks. all kinds of athletes, such as Olympic and national champions, and amateurs who learn the easiest routes..

All kinds of sporting competitions have been held in this beautiful park, from legendary races such as the Akiles Trophy , which is held every December and consists of a tough 10-kilometre run of the Garabitas Circuit in freezing temperatures, to world-class triathlons and mountain biking.

The Forest

El Pinar or Bosque, located in the upper part of the parkdecades ago, it became one of the sacred places for the training of all types of athletes with its famous profile of almost 4 kilometres.

Throughout its history, some fountains have disappeared, some paths have been hidden and paths or firebreaks have been cut. But even so, the years go by and Casa de Campo continues to offer all kinds of resources for endurance sportsThe area is still a great place to run, especially for running. There are corners that seem to evade human presence, but not the varied fauna that can be seen in the early or late hours of the day. In just a few minutes, a couple of kilometres away, you can go from the hustle and bustle of the remodelled Madrid Río, with its terraces, promenades and hundreds of people, to to enjoy a marvellous solitude in the middle of a forest of ash treesThe only noise is the sound of the birds that live along the banks of the streams, especially in the rainy season.

7. Juan Carlos I Park

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juan carlos primero park

It has become one of Madrid's favourite parks for outdoor sports, walking, skating and kite flying.. It has a free bicycle rental service which can be accessed by presenting your ID card.

In addition to the space for kite flying, it is also possible to fly sport fishing on the lake. You can also play volleyball, mini-basketball, five-a-side football and paddle tennis on various outdoor courts.

The paddle courts have extended opening hours:

  • Winter (from October to March): daily from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. (last loan at 4 p.m.)
  • Summer (from April to September): daily from 11 am to 2 pm and from 3 pm to 8.30 pm (last loan at 7.30 pm).


The lake has a surface area of 3 hectares, as well as a stretch of estuary. Over time, it has become a fishing area where enthusiasts can enjoy a place where they can try out bait and techniques. Its main attraction is the carp population.

Experienced anglers recommend getting up early as the spots are limited and the biggest fish tend to be near the island. There is also a small colony of black bass, although it seems that fishing for them is not easy.


The estuary of the Juan Carlos I Park has been the setting for more than 10 years for canoeing courses. beginners' and advanced canoeing coursesThe courses are given by technicians from the National School of Coaches of this sport.

Classes can be taken both on weekdays and weekends. In addition, for some years now, courses have been offered for groups of schools, companies or associations, as well as any other group that requests them. The beginners' classes are aimed at people who have never been in a canoe before. They teach sailing and other basic manoeuvres. As essential requirements, you must be over nine years old and pass a swimming test.

For those who already have experience in the sport, advanced courses are organised, which emphasise more complex techniques and manoeuvres, including skimming.

The Fundación También, whose headquarters are located in the park, set up the only permanent centre for adapted sports in Spain in 2002. It is open all year round, weather permitting. People with disabilities can come on Saturday mornings to practise adapted sports free of charge, coordinated by the foundation's technicians.. On working days, the centre is available for activities with associations.

This space has become a meeting point where inclusive sport can be practised free of charge. Among its activities it offers:

  • Adapted skiing and snowboarding
  • Cycling
  • Candle
  • Water sports
  • Adapted padel