by Nancy Peplinsky, Founder, Holistic Moms Network
If there can be silver linings for the pandemic we have all endured, one of them would most certainly be that people spent more time enjoying nature and the outdoors. With social distancing requirements in place, people flocked to parks, hiking trails, and even their own backyards where they could enjoy a change of scenery. I would venture to say that many of us discovered how much we missed being in nature and discovered the many benefits of reconnecting to the earth.
Beyond our own awareness of the mindfulness and calm that being outdoors can bring, science has repeatedly demonstrated that there are huge physiological benefits to spending time in nature. A recent study published in Scientific Reports cites that “living in greener urban areas is associated with lower probabilities of cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes, asthma hospitalization, mental distress, and ultimately mortality, among adults; and lower irks of obesity and myopia in children.” Tracking the actual exposure-response relationships of people spending time in nature, the researchers found that spending at least 120 minutes a week in nature (less than 20 minutes a day), resulted in “consistently higher levels of both health and well-being than those who reported no exposure.” By teasing out the physical activity association with being outdoors from passively being in nature, the study helps to show both the physical and psycho-physiological benefit gained from being outdoors even without exercise. Of course, outdoor exercise – running, hiking, walking, biking – will certainly improve your health but so will simply sitting in a natural setting and exploring the outdoors without breaking a sweat.
Taking this a step further, proponents of grounding or earthing argue that direct physical contact with the earth has transformative health benefits. Simply walking in bare feet on the earth or coming in direct contact with the ground has been shown to reduce inflammation, pain, and stress in the body and also to improve circulation, energy, and quality of sleep. Why? “Earthing restores a primordial electric connection to the Earth lost over time because of human lifestyle. Earthing appears to correct what we call an ‘electron deficiency syndrome,’ an overlooked and likely significant cause of multiple health disorders.” Fascinating studies using thermal imaging have been able to show how earthing positively alters blood flow and lymph circulation after a 20-60 minutes of earthing. The science of nature never ceases to amaze!
Reconnecting with the earth is simple: take time to walk barefoot outdoors for 20-30 minutes, or sit or stand on grass, dirt, sand, or even concrete (which is still conductive). It’s free and simple. Bring your kids and pets along as well – they can all reap the benefits of reconnecting with the Earth!