The Balanced Brief

Wednesday Wellbeing by Zoe: Walking barefoot

Enhance your well-being this summer by walking barefoot

Are you one of those people that can’t wait to get your shoes off and feel their feet touching the ground as soon as the weather starts to get warmer? Or do you prefer to keep your shoes on? What would you say if I told you that the process of walking barefoot can actually impart health benefits? Well it’s true, the process of ‘earthing,’ feeling the sand, soft grass, squishy mud under the soles of your feet has scientifically proven health benefits.


It may sound like a ‘hippy’ experience but the science is all there. Walking barefoot enables the soles of the feet to pick up large doses of negative ions. According to functional medicine expert Dr Mercola, ‘The effect is sufficient to maintain your body at the same negatively charged electrical potential as the Earth. This simple process of grounding is one of the most potent antioxidants we know of.’

Much is written about the benefits. ‘Earthing,’ ‘grounding’ or barefoot walking is known to enhance mental, emotional and physical wellbeing, reduce and relieve pain and inflammation and can improve sleep along with reducing the impact of stress. If you’re sceptical give it a quick google to find out more! You’ll be surprised about the potential impact.

So how can you include this ‘life hack’ as part of your average day?

  • Take your lunch break in the park, remove your shoes and socks and experience barefoot walking by placing your heel, followed by the middle of your foot and then your toes on the grass to maximise contact with the ground. 30 minutes is thought to be optimum but any length of time will be a boost!
  • Not up for walking, then simply remove your shoes and socks and sit with your feet square on the grass while eating your lunch or checking your messages.
  • If you’re near the sea, go for a walk along the sand. Again, walking heel to toe. This can also feel like a therapeutic mindful practice too!
  • If lucky enough to be on holiday and there are natural stone floors, warmed by the sun, slip your flip flops into your bag and experience the warmth under your feet. It’s bliss.
  • The only condition to sucking up the benefits is that your feet must make contact with a natural substance, grass, mud, sand, stone, ceramic tile or unsealed concrete or brick. There is of course the caveat to minimise risk and that is being mindful about what you’re stepping!

One of my personal favourites is walking up and down the stone steps to the beach in Positano on the Amalfi coast in Italy but the beauty of this ‘hack’ is that you really can do it anywhere!


Zoe Pictured here in Martina Franca, Puglia, Birkenstocks in hand.

Zoe Swan is a Health and Wellness Coach certified with the Institute of Integrative Nutrition She leads the undergraduate law programmes at the University of Brighton. The Times has recently considered her resilience work with law students to be ‘ground-breaking.’