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The Benefits of Walking Barefoot in the Grass

Recent research has revealed that having direct contact of your skin with the Earth's surface can have a number of health benefits.

You are probably well aware that spending time outside is beneficial to your health. Various research studies have proven that living in or nearby green spaces may help you live longer and enjoy improved mental and physical health. Heightened exposure to large amounts of vegetation has been shown to decrease rates of mortality. Simply being around green space — land that is completely or partly covered with grass, shrubs, trees, flowers, or other types of vegetation, including parks, natural rural landscapes, community gardens, playing fields, tree-lined sidewalks, public plazas, and the like, helps bolster your mental health significantly.

Since being in the presence of nature can confer benefits to your well-being, can be really immersed in it offer even greater health rewards? The answer may be yes, according to new research. And it may be as simple as kicking off your shoes and taking a stroll in the grass. Apparently, walking barefoot on the Earth's surface has now been given a clever moniker — “grounding.” Grounding has also been called “earthing,” which seems like a particularly vague term to apply as the Earth obviously encompasses more than just the ground, but I digress.

Research has shown that having your skin come in a direct environmental contact with the numerous active electrons on the Earth’s surface — as is the case in grounding — has captivating health effects. Grounding has been scientifically proven to bolster immunity, reduce inflammation, improve wound healing, and help prevent and treat a host of chronic autoimmune diseases and inflammatory diseases. Grounding has been shown in clinical trials to significantly reduce and event prevent the major signs of inflammation after you sustain an injury, including heat, redness, pain, swelling, and loss or limiting of the function of an area. Researchers explain that grounding drastically reduces the number of lymphocytes and neutrophils (white blood cells) as well as other chemical factors that are involved in inflammation.

Research has found that grounding can help improve your quality of sleep. Grounding has also been found to normalize your day to night rhythm of cortisol — a stress hormone. It reduces the amount of cortisol your body secretes, which then reduces anxiety, irritability, and depressive symptoms, thereby reducing your overall level of stress. This down-regulation of your body’s inflammatory responses is another explanation behind the way grounding can also lower tension in your muscle fibers and reduce pain.

Of course, our modern way of living prevents us from really having much direct contact of the skin on our feet with the Earth’s surface. Simply wearing shoes and living in urban areas with paved streets, sidewalks, and man-made structures don’t force our feet to touch the ground much — if any. Think about it — when was the last time your toes touched the grass or dirt? As a child, you probably played in the dirt fairly often, but most adults don’t spend much time doing this, but maybe we should. Reconnecting with the electrons on the Earth’s surface may be just what the doctor ordered. So kick off your shoes, talk a stroll on a natural surface — dirt, grass, or sand — and enjoy the feeling of knowing you are doing something good for your body and your mind.

[Image via Shutterstock]

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