Did you know that something as simple as having the soles of your feet connected with the earth could increase your health and well-being? It’s incredible how such a basic thing as being in touch with the ground has been hidden from us for so long.
When’s the last time you kicked off your shoes and reveled in the feeling of the Earth under your feet? Been awhile?
It may sound hard to believe, but engaging in this simple pleasure could give your health a much-needed boost.
Walking barefoot, also known as “earthing,” has gone from being a kooky counter-culture trend, to a scientifically-researched practice with a number of remarkable health advantages, such as increasing antioxidants, reducing inflammation, and improving sleep.
Earthing means walking barefoot on soil, grass or sand (meaning: any natural surface). So we’ll have to get off the sidewalk. Early studies are showing that the health benefits come from the relationship between our bodies and the electrons in the earth. The planet has its own natural charge, and we seem to do better when we’re in direct contact with it.
Why should you walk barefoot?
You are an Electrical Being, and the Earth’s Surface is Electrically Conductive
You are an electrical being – your body regularly produces positive charges, which can oxidize and harm you if excessive. The Earth’s surface is electrically conductive; it maintains a negative charge with its free electron supply continually replenished by the global atmospheric electrical circuit.
A review published in the Journal of Environmental and Public Health looked at a number of studies that highlight how drawing electrons from the earth improves health. In one, chronic pain patients using grounded carbon fiber mattresses slept better and experienced less pain.
“It is an established fact that the Earth’s surface possesses a limitless and continuously renewed supply of free or mobile electrons.
… Mounting evidence suggests that the Earth’s negative potential can create a stable internal bioelectrical environment for the normal functioning of all body systems.
Moreover, oscillations of the intensity of the Earth’s potential may be important for setting the biological clocks regulating diurnal body rhythms, such as cortisol secretion.”
There is growing research showing that this connection to the Earth’s surface plays a vital role in preventing disease and as well as offering a host of benefits.
One particularly compelling investigation, published in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, found that earthing increases the surface charge of red blood cells.
As a result, the cells avoid clumping, which decreases blood viscosity. High viscosity is a significant factor in heart disease, which is why so many people take blood thinning aspirin each day to improve their heart health.
Another study in the same journal found that earthing may help regulate both the endocrine and nervous systems.
Modern lifestyle has increasingly separated humans from the primordial flow of Earth’s electrons.
The problem, of course, is that while humans have historically spent much of their days with their bare skin next to the Earth (both while walking and sleeping, including on animal skins, which still allow electrons to enter the body), today this vital connection has been lost.
Earthing Research Shows Significant Benefits
Earthing research has revealed an impressive impact on a variety of health conditions and was found to offer improvements in the following conditions:
- Sleep disturbances, including sleep apnea
- Chronic muscle and joint pain, and other types of pain
- Asthmatic and respiratory conditions
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Energy levels
- Immune system activity and response
- Heart rate variability
- Primary indicators of osteoporosis
- Fasting glucose levels among people with diabetes
Another invaluable benefit is this: when your body is grounded, researchers write, “its electrical potential becomes equalized with the Earth’s electrical potential through a transfer of electrons from the Earth to the body.” This, in turn, offers an “umbrella” of protection against the electromagnetic fields that are now ubiquitous in our environment.
The effects of grounding appear to be so profound that researchers suggest health practitioners prescribe outdoor “barefoot sessions”. This is as simple as it sounds – you kick off your shoes and socks and walk barefoot on the grass, the dirt, the sand or whatever “Earth” is available to you.
Studies suggest that benefits such as pain relief and stress reduction may occur in just 30-80 minutes of barefoot time a day.
Even if there were no proven benefits to walking barefoot, I’d still recommend taking frequent walks in nature.
Regular walking, as little as half an hour a day, can reduce cancer risk, improve cardiovascular health, moderate weight and prevent diabetes. In addition, walking improves blood oxygenation, circulation, and immune response, removes toxins, and relieves stress.
True, we can get many of these exercise benefits by using an indoor treadmill at the local gym. But without being outdoors in a natural environment, we miss out on many of the mental health benefits that are proven to increase when we spend time in nature.
For one thing, even if we enjoy it, going to the gym tends to be a chore. It’s just something we have to cross off our list. On the other hand, walking in nature is about being in the moment, rather than trying to achieve something.
Even more importantly, we are surrounded by fresh oxygen-rich air and beautiful scenery, rather than gym smell and flatscreen TVs. And there’s no membership fee.
Walking also creates physical and emotional rhythms. Unlike running, which is by definition rushed and high impact, walking is gentle, nourishing and gives us space. We have an opportunity to work through the day’s events. In addition, even a light stroll releases endorphins.
Most importantly, we breathe deeply.
As we walk, our breathing starts to synchronize with our motion. We experience a sense of expansion and freedom. Ultimately, walking becomes more than just exercise; it becomes a form of healing, removing our stress and replacing it with well-being on every level.
We evolved close to the earth, and it’s only relatively recently that we have been so keen to remove ourselves from nature.