Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Health benefits and disadvantages of Swiss alpine living

About a year ago, a reader emailed me asking about the health benefits of living in the Swiss Alps as well as its disadvantages. I’m no doctor, but I do have opinions on the matter that some of you might find helpful. So here we go. (People love lists anyway.)

Health benefits:

  • fresh air - Good for the lungs; great for asthmatics

  • dryness - Good for people with dust mite and mold allergies

  • clean water out of the tap - I end up drinking more water

  • beautiful views promote physical activity and gratitude - Looking out the window at a clear blue sky and mountain peaks entices me out of the house; the beauty of nature reminds me of life's beauty; easier to feel grateful when surrounded by beauty

  • lots of sport opportunities - Hiking, mountain biking, mountain climbing, river rafting, downhill skiing, ski touring on skins, cross country skiing, swimming if near a good pool, etc...

  • silence - I sleep better without the sound of traffic; it's soothing to the nerves and conducive to meditation and thought

  • being close to nature - A mere 10-minute walk is laden with sensory benefits; walking in a pine forest is known to be good for you

  • fresh food - Local milk, cheese, butter, eggs, meat, and other produce

  • solitude - One learns to be alone and to be emotionally self-reliant and resilient

  • slow pace - Allows for being in the moment and have less stress

  • less light pollution - Darkness promotes the production of melatonin, hence better sleep

  • less crime - Less anxiety and fear of violence

  • higher altitude - Body produces more red blood cells; athletes train at 1,500-2,000 to get ready for competitions

Health disadvantages:

  • loneliness and isolation - Being alone is not for everyone; villages can be kind of dead

  • lack of specialists and hospitals - You don't want to get really sick up there and need medical attention quickly

  • increased alcoholism in resort areas - Resort areas tend to have more substance abuse, says a therapist I spoke to

  • strong sun - The higher up you go, the less atmosphere the sun's rays has to go through. Hence, your skin is more prone to burn

  • altitude sickness - Depending on high up you go and your activity level. Only temporary

  • dry skin 

Any others? I would be happy to read your comments and/or additions.

Gone fishing — literally

As you may have noticed, I've been absent from the Swiss Alps, due to the fact that I've been fishing off the New England coast. T...