Hiking is healthy, as the saying goes. And through new studies, it is now scientifically sound:
Hiking at moderate altitudes helps against civilization diseases. The reason for this lies in the improvement of oxygen transport by blood formation (med.: Erythropoiesis).
How does this work?
This happens almost automatically in the mountains. Because there is less oxygen in the air, the body has to work more. It’s like a motor that consumes more fuel at high speed. As a result, the number of red blood cells increases significantly, while the total number of all blood corpuscles remains the same. Fresh blood cells provide optimal oxygen to the tissue and the body experiences a noticeable strengthening. In addition, this results in faster cell renewal. This makes the mountains a fountain of youth.
This effect has long been known by top athletes who train at high altitude to build muscle. The Austrian Moderate Altitude Study has systematically collected data since 1998. The study concludes that after a two-week stay at mid-altitude (i.e. 1000-2500 meters elevation), oxygen levels in the body significantly improve when walking at moderate speed on a daily basis.
Mountains hiking against civilization diseases
In 1971, University Professor Egon Humpeler, a specialist in altitude medicine in Bregenz (Austria), presented the health effects of mountain hiking in a high mountain study for the first time: “The consequences of physical inactivity, obesity, problems in metabolism and cardiovascular system, but also fears, emotional needs, motivational and sensory crises up to the burn-out syndrome are easier to handle in mid-altitudes. This is where holistic forces are automatically awakened.”
High effectiveness for health care
If mountain hiking is started in good time and practiced regularly, even in old age the need for care can be largely avoided, according to Professor Humpeler. This also reduces costs. He cites further positive effects on health:
- Optimization of the cardiovascular system, because on the mountain blood pressure and pulse improve significantly;
- increasing the general state of well-being and satisfaction;
- sustained decline of subjective complaints such as back pain and a strengthening of an optimistic attitude towards life;
- increase in sleep quality, sleep duration,
- less fatigue.
In a nutshell, mountain hiking has a balancing effect in a life of constant demands and ever higher loads. Hiking is good for a long, healthy life. And hiking is fun and always offers overwhelming nature experiences that you will never forget.