Healthy Living

Reader Contribution by Bruce Mcelmurray
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Achieving Senior Status

One of the benefits of living to our senior years is that perspective and expectations are greatly enhanced by previous life experiences. When I was younger and engaged in my career I still set aside time to exercise – often by lifting weights and running. I gave little thought to running where vehicle exhaust fumes were evident, industrial fumes and other sources of air degradation prevailed. Since I grew up in the midwest and lived the majority of my life on the east coast or midwest it was just a fact of life to accept the low quality air or water in the environment.

What We Are Willing To Accept

Exercise even in less than prime conditions was better than no exercise at all. I joined a gym and different work out centers which have their own smells inside and then came out into less than favorable air which I was accustomed to living and working in every day. I ran in a beautiful city park approximately 18+ miles per week not even considering the air quality or the occasional burning of my eyes or lungs. I was so used to the poor air quality which I accepted it without any serious thought.

Aha Moment

When we finally retired and moved to live out the remainder our days in the mountains of S. Colorado at 9,800’ elevation I discovered what fresh air actually smells like and how city water or bottled water differs from pure well water (215’ deep) in the mountain. When I draw a glass of water from the tap now and hold it up to the light it is absolutely clear, sparkles and has a fresh sweet taste unlike any water I previously had including bottled water. How I accepted poor air and treated water previously now made me question why I had not paid closer attention in the past.

Factory Noise and City Pollution

When I go outside and take a deep breath of air and smell the freshness now I become invigorated by the smell; it is free of manufactured odors that I had previously become so used to. I grew up in an industrial city and lived a few blocks from a drop forge and auto manufacturer. Everything then depended on which way the wind was blowing as to the odor and quality of air and we adjusted our lifestyle accordingly.

At 9,800’ Elevation – Less Oxygen

Life at 9,800’ is not all ideal however. Not everyone can adapt to the thinner oxygen level and clearly my heart has to pump harder to get sufficient oxygen to my body. If you already have a heart condition life at high elevation can exacerbate the condition. However, if you have high  blood pressure over time living at a higher elevation can actually lower blood pressure. In our 21+ years here I have had several physicians explain these health factors to me.

Slow Down – Work Longer

Living at this altitude isn’t for everyone. It requires more hard work than most people are used to. There is a tendency to fatigue faster than at lower elevations. We adjust our work pattern to a slower more methodical pace to compensate. In the winter which can last 6-7 months there is abundant snowfall. So far this winter 119” have been recorded at our house. While much of the snow can be removed by mechanical means there are many tons of it that that can only be removed by a snow shovel. Actually, this turns out to be especially good exercise if done cautiously.

Firewood = Exercise

Most people have thermostatically controlled heat sources but we heat our small cabin with a wood stove. Hence, during the summer we are busy cutting 9-12 cords of firewood to see us through the winters. Our two most active exercises are shoveling snow and cutting firewood which are both healthy endeavors providing non stop exercise.Mountain Property Becoming Scarce:

So why aren’t there more people living in the mountains? It is a totally different lifestyle than other places for one thing and not everyone is suited for this lifestyle or the hard work involved. Mountain land is becoming more scarce and costly, construction costs are higher due to snow load requirements as well as building/well/electrical/plumbing permits, having year round access is also critical and population density are all factors. There are fewer building sites which can spread communities out with less neighbor contact. Construction on the side of a mountain is much more difficult than on flat land due to the slope and abundant rock formations.

Quiet Is Taxing For Some

There is a tranquility associated with living remotely which some people can’t handle. Years or decades of having familiar noise living in the city or suburbs where there are motors of some sort running, doors slamming or sirens, and noise associated with denser populations can be such a part of life that total silence can be disturbing to some people.

Natural Threats

Then there are the natural threats some people can’t handle. There are strong winds in the mountains and some people don’t like frequent high winds. Last summer we experienced our first wildfire (3rd worst in state history) and just the threat of wildfire is enough to discourage some people (with good cause, I might add). Wildfire is a traumatic event and  having a wildfire in the mountains is a constant concern. Mountain life also has wild animals to occasionally deal with – the type that pose harm to humans.

Fresh Air, Water, Exercise = Healthy Living

While life in the mountains is a very healthy lifestyle these are several reasons why people choose to live in a less demanding environment. Life in the mountains has fresh air, clean untampered water and exercise which as we get older are all high priorities on our list for good health. Some people however do not like change or the lack of amenities that exist in more populated areas. Not do they possess the pioneering spirit.   

We value good healthy living and so this lifestyle suits us ideally and we believe it has added quality time to our lives.

For more on Bruce and Carol McElmurray and their life in a small cabin with their two dogs, and their different lifestyle visit their blog site

Photo taken by Bruce McElmurray from our front deck. 

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