Read the latest on sports medicine, therapy and performance

Mountains Shape Us: How Topography Affects Mood and Personality


Do you need a quick fix of empowerment?

Empower is the 4th pillar of RISE.  We routinely make a plan for the day (work/family schedules, food, exercise, home maintenance, etc..) but how often do we ask “how am I going to empower myself, today?”.  With our increasingly busy schedules, this is an important question. The answer does not have to be complicated.

Feeling Blue? Step into Nature

Are you feeling blue and searching for the quickest way to change your mood? Maybe it’s time to go on a walk. Although, going for any old walk might not be enough. In fact, where you walk is as important as walking itself. Most of us living Colorado’s Rocky Mountains may already have experienced this, despite not knowing that walking in nature changes the workings of our brains.

For more information about the science and study, read the full article. (via The New York Times). Walking outside in nature quiets your mind and strengthens your body allowing you to POWER through your ‘to do’ list.

Topography of Your Brain: Inside Out

A study from the University of Cambridge analyzed a sample of more than 3 million people in 37,000 different zip codes in the United States. They focused on character traits called the “Big Five.” The “Big Five” traits are: agreeableness (trusting and altruistic tendencies), conscientiousness (responsible and organized), extraversion (sociable and outgoing), neuroticism (anxious, tense, emotionally unstable) and open to experience (curious and unconventional).

The study took the sample size, focused on the “Big Five” traits and mapped their connection to geographical clusters, most notably, “mountainousness” or the hilliness and area elevation of a locale. If you live or moved to the mountains, you might be surprised to learn that this says something or could have an impact on your personality.

Empowerment of Mountain Dwellers

People that live in the mountains tend to be more open to opportunities and different experiences, are less neurotic, and more likely to chase goals. And for those who moved to the mountains later in life, the study suggests these people might be more open and less neurotic by virtue of the fact that they are more open to experiences and emotionally stable. This trait of openness could be linked to the history of human migration in the country. And being less neurotic could be beneficial for living secluded lifestyles, say the researchers.

“When we look at personality across the whole United States, we find that mountainous residents are more likely to have psychological characteristics indicative of this frontier mentality,” says the study’s author Friedrich Götz in a statement. “A willingness to move your life in pursuit of goals such as economic affluence and personal freedom drove many original North American frontier settlers,” he said. “Taken together, this psychological fingerprint for mountainous areas may be an echo of the personality types that sought new lives in unknown territories.”

The study suggests that our physical environment is a factor in shaping personality traits. But also, the sociocultural influence of growing up in the shadow of the frontier, its history, and values may have an even bigger impact on personality traits.

The 24 BEST Mountain Towns Ranked by Outside Magazine

Get Outside and MOVE (and if you live in the mountains.. even better!). Your BRAIN and BODY will Thank you.

Be Empowered.


Sonja Stilp, M.D. is a mother, athlete and the founder of RISE (who lives in the mountains and ENJOYS traveling COOL mountain towns beyond the border of Colorado).  Dr. Stilp is board-certified and fellowship trained with advanced training in regenerative medicine and human optimization. If you’d like to hear more about how to heal, recover and empower your performance schedule an appointment to meet with Dr. Stilp at RISE in Golden, Colorado.

Share this Post:

Leave Comment