People head to the mountains of Colorado for outdoor sports, peace and quiet, or just to take in the beauty. For those who have never been, the scenery and lifestyle are amazing. It’s love at first sight for many, and this often leads to decisions to relocate to the Rocky Mountains.
But, there are some challenges tied to the high elevation. Short-term visitors often feel the effects of altitude sickness, and they wonder if their bodies will ever be able to adapt.
The good news is that not only can most people adapt to the higher altitudes and thin air, but there are even quite a few health benefits of living at high elevation.
Interesting for Scientists
This topic really hits home for anyone living at higher elevations, but it’s also fascinating for scientists. The different conditions cause the human body to go through a lot of changes, and doctors are very interested in learning how this can help people with different types of illnesses. They focus a lot on people in Colorado, and they learn more every day about the health benefits of the mountain lifestyle.
What is Altitude Sickness?
Before talking about some of the benefits, it’s worth covering the thing that people fear the most: altitude sickness. Higher elevations have thinner air, and this means that it’s more difficult to get oxygen into your bloodstream. The human body tends to adapt to this, but it takes time, so there can be problems for people who live at lower altitudes but head up into the mountains.
It completely depends on the person, but most won’t feel any effects until they go higher than 7,000 feet or so. Also, it doesn’t matter the gender or fitness level of the person. Altitude sickness can hit anyone it wants to. Some common symptoms are headaches, dizziness, nausea, and loss of appetite. It generally goes away over time, but it’s a good idea to talk to a doctor or pharmacist for advice if you’re having problems.
Better Cardiovascular Health
Once people get past the stages of altitude sickness, there are numerous health benefits in the mountains. One of the most prominent is higher levels of cardiovascular health. This is caused by a number of things (which scientists are trying to learn more about), but some of the theories are that the heart starts functioning differently and new blood vessels are developed to cope with the thinner air. There are other theories, such as better access to vitamin D because of being closer to the sun, but the result is still fewer heart problems in people living at high elevation.
Lower Levels of Obesity
Another trend of those living at high elevations is a lower level of people with obesity. It’s often shown that states like Colorado which have high elevations have residents with a lower average weight than other places, and that may just be thanks to the environmental conditions.
This also has multiple theories. The first is that people simply exercise more, but studies have found that isn’t necessarily true. Next, it’s possible that it takes more energy for the body to function at higher elevations, so this could contribute to lower weight. A third theory is that the altitudes affect hormones which control hunger, and people living higher up have smaller appetites.
Whatever the reason, no one can complain about lower levels of obesity!
One thing that is for sure is that the mountains in Colorado are so beautiful that they’ll inspire you to get outside. Plus, there are plenty activities that you can take part in, such as skiing, hiking, or rock climbing. When exercising is fun and in a gorgeous setting, it’s far easier to find the motivation you need to get off the sofa and get your body into good shape!
Another trend that’s been noticed about people living at higher elevation is that they have longer lives than those living closer to sea level. Yet again, scientists aren’t quite certain of the reasons why. It could be a combination of all the other factors that we’ve mentioned here, or it could be a completely different phenomenon.
Or, it could just be that people are living longer because they’re so happy!
Winter Park is a Healthy Home
All of these health benefits of living at high elevation are enjoyed by the residents of Winter Park. Some visitors get scared off because of altitude sickness when they just stay for a short time, but everyone who sticks around realizes how much better they feel after some time spent up in the clouds.
Plus, the stronger hearts, higher fitness levels, and longer lives don’t go to waste. There are so many amazing activities that the people in Winter Park never get bored!