Vail Daily column: Mountain living equals longevity |

Vail Daily column: Mountain living equals longevity

Richard Carnes
My View
Richard Carnes

Some things we just know, you know?

And every so often one of those “things” is proven on paper, causing a collective, “Yep, I always knew that … ” type of remark.

Along the lines of what’s known as conventional wisdom, it’s sort of like knowing the sun will rise in the east tomorrow and set in the west, yet we don’t need a government study to prove it. Not exactly like the “biggest elephant in the room” analogies that nobody wants to talk about, they are more like the bride with a bodacious baby-bump as she waddles down the aisle. Everybody knows, but waits until the timing is right to say anything.

Anyway, those of us that have lived in Happy Valley for more than a decade or two have simply just “known” that Eagle County folks seem to live longer than the average American.

We see it in everyone from senior ski instructors and aging real estate agents to gray-haired golf pros and elderly river guides. And sure, we have to include a few old farts who yell and shake their fists at kids driving too fast and snowboarders who cut them off without warning.

And we don’t outlive other Americans by just a few months or so, but indeed years longer than the vast majority of the country, and in many cases, like south of the Mason/Dixon line and east of the Texas panhandle, an entire decade (it appears to be particularly unhealthy anywhere near the Mississippi River).

That’s a whole lotta time to eat good food, drink good beer, ski, hike, make whoopee, watch “Game of Thrones,” construct letters to the editor and create more memories with friends and family.

Take a look for yourself at http://viz.healthmetrics and you’ll see that it also covers things such as smoking, obesity and poverty, with each of those also appearing to collect heavily around the same evidently unhealthy river basin.

And yes, we also rule when it comes to physical activity (as if we didn’t already know).

The chart was compiled by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, and before you start yelling about the misuse of federal tax dollars, realize that the majority of funding comes from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the University of Washington. Its been around since 2007, their mission is “to improve the health of the world’s populations by providing the best information on population health.”

Not a terribly bad idea, even if it does sound like Vail Resorts saying their mission is “to improve the skiing abilities of the world’s skiers by providing the best information on skiers’ skiing ability.”

But not only does Eagle County kick some aging butt, five of the top 10 counties for longevity in the entire United States are in our glorious state of Colorado, including Pitkin, Summit, Gunnison and Douglas.

And that’s out of 3,143 counties.


As long as we don’t hit too hard, we should be patting each other on the back daily.

Of course, it doesn’t mean that if you move here you are suddenly guaranteed to live longer, but it does increase your odds over time.

And that’s something everyone here already knows.

Richard Carnes, of Edwards, writes weekly. He can be reached at

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