Amongst the thick forests and snowy summits, mountainous regions are proven to boost both physical and mental well-being. Altitude has known health benefits and the stunning scenery helps with decision-making and creativity. Here are just some of the reasons to go and reach great heights…

At the foot of the Swiss Alps, Grégoire Millet, a physiologist at the Institute of Sports Science at the University of Lausanne (ISSUL), has devoted the last twelve years to studying the benefits of living in the mountains. After conducting extensive research on the positive effects of altitude training, this former triathlete has developed a new method of endurance training.

Improving endurance

In 2015, during their preparations for the World Cup, the Welsh Rugby team tried out this new type of training developed in Switzerland. Whether athletes actually climb mountains or simply simulate the altitude from the ground, there is a definite benefit to their training.

Altitude stimulates the production of red blood cells in our body.

“It stimulates the production of red blood cells in our body. As a result, more oxygen can be transported in our blood to tissues, muscles and even our brain.” Grégoire Millet goes on to explain how “living in the mountains or regularly climbing will boost physical well-being.”

Altitude suppresses hunger

According to Millet, spending time at higher altitudes has a particular benefit for people who are ageing, obese or who suffer from circulatory problems. If they regularly stayed “between 800 and 1800 metres” they could significantly improve their health.

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Living above 1300 metres reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases and certain cancers.

“Living above 1300 metres reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases and certain cancers.” Altitude is know to improve blood flow, but it can also help combat obesity. “It has a positive impact on reducing hunger, due to its effect on the hormones responsible for controlling appetite and determining how full we feel.”

Nature boosts creativity

“Just like Nietzsche, I think the greatest ideas come to us whilst out walking!” Taking inspiration from the German philosopher, often known to wander along the Côte d’Azur, Thierry Malleret also does some of his best thinking in the great outdoors. For the past ten years the economist has swapped the hustle and bustle of big city life in London and New York, for the tranquility of South-Eastern France. Setting up his consulting agency in Haute-Savoie he finds hiking in Charmonix or skiing down mountains some of the best places to work.

In Japan, spending time in forests is actually prescribed to people as a form of preventative medicine. It is a type of therapy known as shinrin-yoku.

Thierry Malleret describes feeling “so much more productive when I am outside.” He believes “we think better when we allow our mind to wander,” whilst admiring the mountainous views.

Benefits from the forest

Thierry Malleret is convinced: getting outside, either climbing mountains or simply being in nature, helps us make decisions and unleashes are creativity. In fact, he has even incorporated this belief into his business model. “When business owners or members of multinational corporations come to me for advice, I recommend we take a walk through the mountains together.”

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Climbing a mountain is a symbol of progress, moving onwards and upwards. In doing so we feel much more positive, something Thierry Malleret stressed about the influence of the outdoors on human beings. “Nature is calming and it improves our mental health. In Japan, spending time in forests is actually prescribed to people as a form of preventative medicine. It is a type of therapy known as shinrin-yoku.”

Translation by Meg Johnson