The Benefits of Barefoot Living
When’s the last time you walked through the grass, soil or sand, barefoot? If it’s been a while, you might be surprised to learn that walking barefoot actually has scientifically proven health benefits. Turns out there’s something to the phrase “touch grass,” after all.
Some people call this concept “earthing.” When you take off your shoes and socks and make a direct connection with the earth, your body absorbs negative electrons from the earth. This bioelectrical movement balances your body’s internal rhythms and positive ions. As a result, you’ll notice health benefits like better sleep, pain reduction, enhanced energy and more.
Here’s what you need to know about the benefits of barefoot living.
What science says
A study in the Journal of Environmental and Public Health notes that “emerging scientific research” shows a “surprisingly positive and overlooked environmental factor on health.” The massive supply of electrons on earth’s surface can “promote intriguing physiological changes,” while many people subjectively report they simply feel better after walking barefoot. Furthermore, earthing actually changes the electrical patterns in your brain.
Another study suggests that physically connecting your body to the earth during sleep has similar benefits—in fact, the electrons on the earth’s surface may act as antioxidants. Their hypothesis is that when you connect directly to the ground, your body enables diurnal electrical rhythms. It also allows free electrons to flow from the earth to the body, which “neutralize the positively charged free radicals that are the hallmark of chronic inflammation.”
As you may know, chronic inflammation can cause a variety of issues, including pain, diabetes, arthritis and joint diseases, allergies, heart disease, COPD and more. Anything you can do to reduce inflammation will have a beneficial effect on your overall health.
Science says, get out of the house and take off your shoes.
The benefits of a barefoot life
Depending on your lifestyle, chances are you spend a lot of time indoors—or at least with shoes on. Those thick, insulating soles provide a barrier between the earth’s electrons and your body, shielding you from the benefits of earthing.
When you touch grass, you can:
- Control your blood pressure: When we walk barefoot, it stimulates the nerves in our feet. This reduces stress—and the added release of exercise and grounding can help lower our blood pressure.
- Manage weight and stress: Walking is a low-impact exercise that can still help manage weight and stress. The gentler pace and movement is good for the joints. Just a half hour walk per day can make a significant difference in your health and stress levels. Plus, even the easiest of walks can release endorphins.
- Prevent inflammation and disease: From allergies and inflammation to heart disease and diabetes, walking barefoot can help you prevent inflammation and disease. It supports your immune function, so you should feel healthier overall. It’s like an antioxidant you don’t have to consume.
- Reduce insomnia: If you’re having trouble sleeping, walking barefoot can influence your circadian rhythms. This stabilizes your wake/sleep cycle. Walking through the grass, soil or sand can also induce relaxation. Why not take a turn about the backyard before you go to bed each night?
- Reduce pain: In addition to reducing inflammation, which can cause pain, grounding also increases oxygen levels in the body. This helps reduce the sensation of pain as you improve your overall health.
- Straighten your posture: If you find yourself slouching and hunched over more often than not, walking barefoot can improve your posture. Our shoes and other soft surfaces create weakened foot muscles. Instead of flexible and strong feet, we’re used to cushioning our gait with comfortable shoes. The body makes up for this by overusing other muscles instead of relying on foot muscles. This can lead to back, knee, neck and shoulder pain. Walking barefoot strengthens your feet and helps improve posture.
It’s time to get outside
Clearly, walking outside has some scientifically proven benefits for your physical and mental health—and we can’t discount the fact that it’s just a pleasant experience anyway. It’s easy to get caught up in the daily grind and spend entire days indoors, running errands or wearing shoes.
Whether you’re hoping to ward off disease or simply enjoy the feeling of walking in the park, the beach or your backyard, head outside and kick off your shoes. Science says it can make a big difference in your overall well-being.