Down to Earth
If the last time you went barefoot was at the beach, think again. Getting around barefoot has historically been the domain of children and granola types. Nowadays, a growing body of scientific evidence is urging us all to kick off our shoes, for benefits ranging from lower blood pressure to heightened immunity.
As it turns out, not only is it divine to stroll through the grass on a hot summer day, it also prompts your body to release hormones that stimulate well being.
It's important to note that to reap the benefits, your barefoot walking needs to be done on natural surfaces - the sidewalk or hardwood floor don't count. “Earthing”, as it’s now commonly known, includes shoeless walking on soil, grass, or sand: in a nutshell, on the earth.
Who doesn't recall, recently or in the mists of time, the lovely feeling of the sand between your toes, the peaty earth of a moist garden, or the cool lawn beneath your feet? As it turns out, those feelings prompt chemical messengers in your blood stream that trigger a domino effect of health boosting effects.
I can't think of many health strategies that sound more pleasant than this prescription!
Walking barefoot has remarkable and astonishing results. According to the Journal of Environmental and Public Health, these include a reduction of inflammation, an increase in antioxidants, a boost for immunity, and improved sleep.
Another surprising study conducted by the U.S. National Institute of Health found that the earth has a magnetic charge, and when we interact directly with it, the resulting chemical balance in our bodies shifts to bring about intriguing benefits.
According to this study:
Electrical activity in the brain was found to change dramatically
Subjects who suffered from chronic pain reported significant improvements
Heart rate was moderated
Glucose levels improved
Cortisol levels were reduced
The endocrine system became more regulated
As fascinating as the science on this subject seems, there is just something utterly primal about walking barefoot. In the history of humankind, shoes are a relatively recent invention. Though few among us are willing to give them up, there is no equivalent to that delicious sensation of happy feet traipsing outside on a warm, sunny day. It’s the stuff we dream of all winter, so take full advantage this summer and get earthing.
Your feet - and the rest of your body - will thank you for it!