Walking barefoot in nature may seem like a hippie trend, but a growing body of scientific research has revealed a multitude of health benefits associated with this practice. Known as “earthing,” walking barefoot on natural surfaces like soil, grass, or sand can increase antioxidants, reduce inflammation, improve sleep, and provide various other advantages.
The Science Behind Earthing
Earthing involves direct contact between our bodies and the electrons in the earth. Studies have shown that being in direct contact with the earth — which has its own natural charge — can have a positive impact on our health.
Researchers have conducted many studies on the health benefits of earthing, highlighting its potential to improve various aspects of our well-being. In a new report from Biomedical Journal, scientists say “Grounding or earthing could be the anti-inflammatory antidote for modern man. It is one of the greatest-kept secrets when it comes to our health and aliveness and only a small part of the scientific community really understands the concept.” 1
Pain Relief and Sounder Sleep
One study published in the Journal of Environmental and Public Health found that chronic pain patients experienced better sleep and reduced pain when using grounded carbon fiber mattresses.2 Another study revealed that earthing can alter the electrical activity in the brain, as measured by electroencephalograms. These findings suggest that earthing may have a positive impact on sleep quality and pain management.3
Enhanced Skin Conductivity and Heart Health
Research has also shown that earthing can improve skin conductivity, moderate heart rate variability, and regulate glucose levels. A study published in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found that earthing increases the surface charge of red blood cells, preventing them from clumping together and reducing blood viscosity.4 High blood viscosity is a significant factor in heart disease, making earthing a potential natural method to support heart health.
Regulation of Endocrine and Nervous Systems
Another study in the same journal discovered that earthing may help regulate both the endocrine and nervous systems.2 This suggests that earthing could have a positive impact on hormonal balance and overall neurological function. By showing a connection with the earth’s electric charge, we may be able to restore balance to these essential systems in our bodies.
The Benefits of Walking in Nature
In addition to the specific benefits of earthing, walking in nature offers a wide range of advantages for our overall health and well-being. Even if we disregard the benefits of going barefoot, regular walking in natural environments can have a profound impact on our physical and mental health.5
Physical Health Benefits
Walking for as little as half an hour each day can significantly reduce the risk of cancer, improve cardiovascular health, help maintain a healthy weight, and lower the chances of developing diabetes. Furthermore, walking enhances blood oxygenation, circulation, and immune response while eliminating toxins from the body. These benefits can contribute to a stronger and more resilient physical body.
Mental Health Benefits
While exercising indoors on a treadmill can provide similar physical benefits, walking in nature offers added mental health advantages. Spending time in natural environments has been proven to boost mental well-being and reduce stress levels. Unlike going to the gym, which can feel like a chore, walking in nature allows us to be fully present in the moment. The fresh air, beautiful scenery, and lack of membership fees create a more enjoyable and stress-free experience.
Emotional Rhythms and Endorphin Release
Walking creates a rhythm that nurtures both our physical and emotional well-being. Unlike running, which can be high-impact and rushed, walking is gentle, nourishing, and provides space for reflection. It allows us to process the events of the day and release any built-up stress. Moreover, even a light stroll can trigger the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good hormones.6 As we synchronize our breathing with our motion, we experience a sense of expansion and freedom, leading to a state of deep relaxation and well-being.
Embracing Our Evolutionary Connection with the Earth
On an evolutionary level, walking barefoot and spending time in nature makes complete sense. Throughout history, humans have been closely connected to the earth, relying on its resources for survival. However, modern lifestyles have increasingly distanced us from this natural connection. By embracing the practice of earthing and walking barefoot, we can reclaim our evolutionary roots and reap the many health benefits associated with it. So, kick off your shoes, step outside, and embrace the incredible benefits of walking barefoot in nature.
- Sinatra ST, Sinatra DS, Sinatra SW, Chevalier G. Grounding — The universal anti-inflammatory remedy. Biomed J. 2023 Feb;46(1):11-16.
- Chevalier G, Sinatra ST, Oschman JL, et al. Earthing: health implications of reconnecting the human body to the Earth’s surface electrons. J Environ Public Health. 2012;2012:291541.
- Sokal P, Sokal K. The neuromodulative role of earthing. Med Hypotheses. 2011 Nov;77(5):824-6. doi: 10.1016/j.mehy.2011.07.046. PMID: 21856083.
- Chevalier G, Sinatra ST, Oschman JL, Delany RM. Earthing (grounding) the human body reduces blood viscosity-a major factor in cardiovascular disease. J Altern Complement Med. 2013 Feb;19(2):102-10.
- White, M.P., Alcock, I., Grellier, J. et al. Spending at least 120 minutes a week in nature is associated with good health and wellbeing. Sci Rep 9, 7730 (2019).
- Craft LL, Perna FM. The Benefits of Exercise for the Clinically Depressed. Prim Care Companion J Clin Psychiatry. 2004;6(3):104-111.