16 Jun

Walking Does What? New Research On Walking

One of my favourite activities is walking, in nature. I often start my day with an early morning walk in my neighbourhood park.  It gives me the benefit of exercise but more importantly for me, it is a time of solitude, meditation and what I call my “conversation with God”.

All great benefits but…lately, I’ve been reading about new research on the health benefits of walking and walking in our bare feet.

Benefits that I believe are worth checking out.

In a May 16, 2015 Ottawa Citizen article, Elizabeth Payne reviewed a new book “Born To Walk:  The Transformative Power of a Pedestrian Act” by Dan Rubinstein.

Rubinstein had the following to say about walking:  “I started to research its (walking) curative properties and realized it wasn’t just me who was starting to feel better from walking.  There were people around the world who were using walking as a way to stride toward better physiological and psycho-social health.” 

Rubinstein’s comments affirms one of my favourite quotes on walking:

“Above all, do not lose your desire to walk: every day I walk myself into a state of well-being … I have walked myself into my best thoughts, and I know of no thought so burdensome that one cannot walk away from it.”  Soren Kierkegaard

 

Feet in grass on meadow with chamomile.

Feet in grass on meadow with chamomile.

Walking Barefoot

There is also new research on walking barefoot so you are connected to the earth – on the grass, a sandy beach, a walk in water along a river’s edge or even a field of daisies!

Walking barefoot was the focus of an article in the June 2015 issue of Alive magazine by Joshua Duvauchelle entitled “Bare feet and Bare Soil”.

Ducauchelle writes about new research on the earth’s energy cycles and rhythms that play an important role in our own bodies’ electrical rhythms, such as regulating our hormone production and sleep-wake cycles.

He quotes from a report in the Journal of Environmental and Public Health:  “Omnipresent throughout the environment is a surprisingly beneficial, yet overlooked global resource for health maintenance disease prevention and clinical therapy:  the surface of the earth itself.”

“If the earth’s energy is linked to our health and wellness, scientists are worried that we may have become too disconnected…Paved streets, high-rise condos, office, jobs, and other elements of our insulated modern lifestyles might be blocking our access to the power of nature, throwing our own bodies electrical cycles out of sync.”  Duvauchelle goes on to say that getting grounded – coming back into contact with the surface of the earth and reconnecting with its energy – may be the answer.  This theory is know as “earthing” or “grounding”.

I believe we know intuitively that there are benefits to walking barefoot on the earth.  I remember as a child  running barefoot throughout the summer.  I was fortunate that our neighbourhood had large back yards with a farmer’s field behind our property.  The only time being barefoot became a bit of a challenge was when I was tree climbing!

Those days may be long gone but walking barefoot or “earthing” doesn’t have to be.

The Bottom Line

  • Spend time outside daily – walk, sit or play – and connect to the earth
  • Health benefits of being outside are cumulative so if you can’t spend 30 minutes all at once, split it up into 3 ten minute breaks a day.  (Surely you can give yourself the gift of 30 minutes in nature each day!)
  • If mobility is an issue, sit on a chair with your bare feet on the earth

For those of us in Canada, obviously bare feet on the ground is a seasonal activity.

All the more reason to take advantage of the summer weather – kick off your shoes and go play outside.