The Mountains Relationship with Human Health

Trigg Skoe


By Josiah Cuckler


Colorado is greatly known for the mountains it possesses. There are 58 mountains in Colorado that are above 14,000 feet, and each mountain possess slightly different challenges. With all these great mountains and valleys to climb and conquer there is a multitude of positive health benefits. There are also, multiple factors to consider for each hiking venture: What season is it, what is the elevation gain for the trip (from start to finish) and what will be the distance covered round trip? Some other factors to think about: are you going to drive to the trail the day of, or camp out somewhere near the mountain overnight and are you physically prepared. There are many other aspects of climbing the highest peaks of Colorado, but these are some major ones. Keep safety in mind with these great adventures, the altitude can be unforgiving.

Student, Malik Abdessalam summits Horsetooth Mountain. After running four-hundred plus miles within the Horsetooth trails, Malik decided to climb the 7,260 foot mountain, strengthening and conditioning his body for future ultra marathon races. November. 10, 2017,Horsetooth Mountain, Colorado. Tyler Morales | Collegian

Hiking these great mountaintops can benefit the cardiovascular and pulmonary system greatly. The human body adapts to its environment and increasing in altitude causes a variation of physiological effects. As altitude increases oxygen concentration decrease requiring the body to take certain actions so that it can adapt and survive. With low blood oxygen levels, a hormone called Erythropoietin is released from the kidneys to stimulate formation of red blood cells. This is one of many changes occurring as you hike and increase in altitude. Hiking in general gives benefits to the human heart and lungs. This aerobic activity aids in heart health, muscle strength, can aid in bone health and aid weight maintenance. Beyond the physical benefits of hiking there are numerous other benefits that apply to other dimensions of human health. Psychological health has a positive correlation with hiking. Being away from the pandemonium of the city and getting some sun and fresh air in the mountains is a great way to clear your mind and improve multiple dimensions of your health. Being in Fort Collins we are so lucky to have the mountains near, they are always there, stable and providing plentiful benefits. 

Information present in this article are from: Taking multiple heavy science classes such as physiology (BMS-300), biochemistry (BC-351), aerobic training (HES) and human nutrition (FSHN-350).