Aleteia

5 Reasons to ditch your shoes this summer

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The human foot is a marvel of God’s creation. Let’s liberate our feet and walk the way we were made to!

It might seem strange that I’m writing an article on the benefits of walking barefoot during a global pandemic, but hear me out. Here are five reasons why walking barefoot — outdoors — is actually one of the best ways to keep yourself and your family healthy.

1
Improved circulation

Walking barefoot is essential to maintaining good blood circulation, because the many blood vessels in your feet route deoxygenated blood back up to your heart. Without the stimulation that comes from walking barefoot, the valves in the vessels of the foot and lower leg can malfunction. This causes blood pooling, varicose veins, and in severe situations can even lead to blood clots. Speaking of blood clots …

2
Reduced blood viscosity

Of particular interest during these times of COVID-19, one surprising benefit of going barefoot is reduction in blood thickness or viscosity. Walking barefoot increases the surface charge of red blood cells, reducing the chances of blood clotting and clumping. This has a direct effect on our cardiovascular health, as blood clotting is a major factor in cardiac events like strokes and heart attacks — a peculiar but growing complication in COVID-19 infections. A study from the National Institutes of Health states that that walking barefoot is “one of the simplest and yet most profound Interventions for reducing cardiovascular risk.”

3
Better balance and proprioception

The human foot is a marvel of God’s creation. Humans are the only species that move primarily by means of bipedal locomotion, and our foot is the cornerstone of this ability. Containing over 200,000 nerve endings, our feet provide vital sensory feedback that teach us how to keep our balance, avoid sharp objects, even where and how to place our feet on the ground in order to reduce the risk of falling and minimize joint damage. When we wear shoes, all these nerve endings are cut off from the ground contact that is crucial in maintaining the functions God designed our feet to carry out. 

4
Improved eyesight

This both surprised and delighted me – walking barefoot can actually improve our eyesight, and it has nothing to do with learning to spot shot sharp objects on the ground! In fact, all those nerve endings in our feet contain pressure points that connect directly to various parts of our body and brain, including the eyes. Walking barefoot over a variety of terrain — not just on the hardwood or carpets of your house – stimulates these pressure points and can improve the neural connectivity between your body and brain, stimulating improvements in everything from circadian rhythm to eyesight. Sleep better, see better — win-win! 

5
Better immune response

Many people avoid going barefoot out of fear of picking up diseases or fungi from the ground, but in all actuality, the opposite is true: going barefoot improves the health of your feet and of your overall body. Not only does going barefoot eliminate the closed, moist environment that shoes create (and that fungi love to thrive in), it also increases red blood cell count and decreases white blood cells. This is indicative of a positive immune response and improved immune reactivity — which means your immune system is going to be in better shape to fight off all manner of pathogens, from COVID-19 to the common cold.

So ditch your shoes this summer and enjoy feeling the earth under your feet—just the way God intended! 

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