From the “purple mountain majesties” of America the Beautiful to John Muir’s "The Mountains Are Calling", it’s hardly a secret that the world’s peaks are both beautiful and inspiring. But what many don’t know is that mountain living is also extremely beneficial for one’s health. There are some truly unexpected reasons why the body will benefit from living in the hills. Here are five reasons why living in the mountains might just be one of the best choices you could ever make for your health.
1. Inspiration to Be Active
It is no joke that the sight of beautiful mountains is inspiring. And while an ocean view or a city skyline can certainly be both beautiful and inspirational, neither tends to foster ambitions to swim laps or climb the many staircases of a skyscraper. But as John Muir so eloquently put it, there’s something about the sight of mountains that just calls the soul. And that means hiking and biking and skiing. It's no mistake that of the top ten states that get the most exercise, nine of them are known for their extensive mountain ranges.
2. Keep Trim Just by Living Higher Up
The world’s earliest mountain climbers soon realized that their journeys required that their bodies and their packs take on a larger amount of sustenance than usual to meet the physical requirements of the climb. And it wasn’t just the arduous hiking that was burning extra calories. Recent studies have concluded that by simply expending energy at a higher altitude, the body burns through a larger number of calories. That means, depending on how you look at it, it’s easier to keep the weight off. That scrumptious dessert won’t do quite as much damage as it would down in the valley or beachside.
3. Mountain Living Can Fight Heart Disease
While the altitude lowers the risk of obesity, that’s not the only advantage that altitude has in preventing heart disease. Studies have shown that people who live at higher altitudes will have a certain gene activated that significantly decreases the risk of dying from ischemic heart disease.
4. The Smell of Fresh Air
There’s a reason why city dwellers take a deep breath when they step into the country -- there’s just something about fresh air. Mountain living means always being amongst that cool, refreshing air. There are direct benefits to clean air, such as lower instances of asthma, but living amongst good smells has also been shown to decrease stress and promote a better night’s sleep. More sleep and less stress are two of the most important ingredients to overall good health.
5. Higher Altitudes Might Mean Longer Life
Both anecdotal evidence and a few studies have shown a correlation between longevity and living at a higher elevation. And whether it’s because of the reasons enumerated above, or another heretofore undiscovered factor, it can hardly be just a coincidence that 11 of the 20 US counties with the highest life expectancy were located above altitudes of 5,967 feet. Just another reason to appreciate that mountain air.