Beneficial effects of the mountain environment.
The mountain environment is renowned for its numerous beneficial effects on the body and on the psychophysical condition of the person in general, and in particular on children and the elderly. At altitudes of between 2,000 and 2,300 metres above sea level, the mild temperatures permit longer exposure to sunlight, the ultraviolet rays stimulate the production of vitamin D, fundamental for metabolizing calcium and therefore essential for correct bone development in children and for combating rheumatism and osteoporosis, which older people frequently suffer from.
Sunlight in the mountains is stronger and more intense during the day than at lower altitudes, it stimulates the activity of the pineal gland thus enhancing the production of melatonin, the hormone which regulates sleep and wake cycles.
Melatonin triggers a series of follow-on physiological reactions, an increase in the secretion of this hormone results in improved efficiency of the whole organism. Levels of air pollution at altitudes between 1,800 metres and 2,300 metres are considerably lower than those at 1,500 metres above sea level.
It's necessary to spend at least 10 days and nights at an altitude of between 2,100 and 2,300 metres above sea level, and the reduced level of oxygen in the air will stimulate the bone marrow to produce an increased quantity of red blood cells, causing a subsequent improvement in oxygenation of all body tissue. A slight reduction in the percentage of oxygen in the air increases lung ventilation, which engenders beneficial effects, in particular in children affected by allergic conditions such as asthma and rhinitis, and in elderly people with chronic respiratory conditions.
As well as the respiratory airways and the lungs, the heart and blood circulation also reap the benefits of the atmospheric conditions. If a little physical exercise is also undertaken during the stay in the mountains, the results will be an all-round improvement in health and physical well-being. The mountain, with its intense sunlight, colours and natural smells, is an ideal place of recuperation for those affected by depressive illnesses and chronic anxiety.