Health is Wealth in the Lakes Region

Timberman Triathalon, Gilford, NH
Timberman Triathalon, Gilford, NH

In between writing his epic works, the Roman poet Virgil (70 BC–19 BC) came up with many expressions of truth, one of which is generally accepted as valid today: the greatest wealth is health. Though some may disagree with it being the greatest wealth, few would argue with the premise that health is wealth. Few too can argue with the fact that the Lakes Region of New Hampshire is a healthy place to live. In case you are ever in a position to debate the issue with unbelievers, here are some propositions to put forth.

The Lakes Region is Peaceful: The peaceful setting of the Lakes Region is healthy for you. Stress is a killer. Stanford University Medical School released research stating that stress is the cause of at least 95% of all illness and disease, and the Center for Disease Control states that 90% of disease is related to stress. Harvard Medical School had this to say: “Too much stress for too long creates what is known as ‘chronic stress’ which has been linked to heart disease, stroke, and may also influence cancer and chronic respiratory diseases…stress affects you emotionally as well, marring the joy you gain from life and loved ones.”

It is not to say that high-stress occupations do not exist in the Lakes Region. But when you leave work, few in this area have to deal with long commutes through dense highway traffic and hundreds of other stressors. With this in mind, there is no question that peace reigns in the Lakes Region. There may not be informative studies on the subject, but common sense dictates that looking out over a beautiful lake, mountain, or forest does more for a person’s peace of mind and soul than continually looking out on a mass of buildings and pavement.

Lake Region’s Seasonal Change and Cold Weather Have Significant Health Benefits: Here is another argument for your consideration. Forget about those endless days of warm weather in the southern states. Periods of cold weather have proven to be a healthy environment for many reasons. Studies have found that cooler temperature can help you sleep better and may improve metabolism while you sleep. Scientists have determined that our brains work better in cooler temperatures. Also, though most people think cold weather leads to dry skin and wrinkling, Harvard Health found that “moderately cold temperatures could be good for the vasculature because it trains blood vessels in the skin to be responsive.” Scientists have also discovered that a change in seasons is beneficial to health and happiness. According to research published in Psychology Today, week after week of sunshine does not necessarily make a person happy, and if the weather never changes, a person starts taking the sunshine for granted.

Another factor to consider is that areas with periods of cold weather have an environment that is less hospitable for disease-carrying pathogens. Freezing temperatures kill off pests such as mosquitoes and ticks, keeping their population under control and protecting us from the illnesses they spread. In states with milder winters, pests are able to multiply through the winter and cause major outbreaks in the spring. Also, NH’s lakes and ponds regenerate each winter when they freeze.

Cold weather reduces inflammation. For the same reason that putting ice on an injury works to reduce inflammation, the treatment works throughout the body as well. Experts are discovering the list of ailments associated with inflammation is extensive, including debilitating conditions such Alzheimer’s, heart disease, cancer, and arthritis. Inflammation is also thought to be the culprit behind the visible signs of aging.

The Best Health Club is the One With No Walls: The best health club is the great outdoors. Leisure activities in the fresh air are important for mental and physical health. Here in the Lakes Region, outdoor activities abound – skiing, snowboarding, horseback riding, swimming, boating, hiking, golf, Nordic skiing, waterskiing, fishing, snowmobiling walking, gardening, sporting events, races, fairs, concerts…the list goes on and on.

The Lakes Region has an abundance of local health food stores to supplement a healthy lifestyle. These include Sunflower Natural Foods in downtown Laconia, Lakes Region Nutrition Center in Meredith, Natural Roots and Remedies in Gilford, and Gemini Health Emporium in Tilton. This area also has a wealth of farms which provide fresh produce, including Beans and Greens in Gilford, Winnipesaukee Woods Farm in Gilford, Spring Hill Farm in Sanbornton, Moulton Farm in Meredith, Surowiec Farm in Sanbornton, and Mustard Seed Farm in Wolfeboro.

These are just three of many arguments for the Lakes Region being a healthy place to live. Elements of these are the basis for some of the following findings:

  1. The latest report from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development found that NH residents have the best quality of life in the US. This ranking is based on health, life expectancy, mortality rate, environment, safety, housing, access to broadband, education, and income.
  2. This is the fifth consecutive year that NH has topped CQ Press’s list of “Most Livable State in the US,” which is based on the criteria of many quality-of-life measures, including health, low crime, and low poverty. Morgan Quitno Corporation of Kansas also named NH the “Most Livable State in the Nation” for 8 consecutive years.
  3. NH currently ranks 7th in the United Health Foundation’s report of “America’s Healthiest States.” Some of the factors contributing to this ranking include our low incidence of cardiovascular deaths and our high number of physicians per 100,000.
  4. NH has one of the highest rankings in the country for senior citizens’ health-related quality of life.
  5. NH was picked the #1 state for retirement in the country according to moneyrates.com. This rank was based on many factors including life expectancy, cost of living, climate, tax burden, and crime rate.
  6. Lake Winnipesaukee, NH was rated the #1 retirement place in the country under the category “leisure living for recreational and cultural opportunities” (rated by MacMillan Travel, 5th edition of Retirement Places Rated)

If health is wealth, then by all accounts, those who live in the Lakes Region are among the healthiest and therefore wealthiest people in the world.

This post was written by Mary O’Neill.

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