I love to share studies that I’ve found… and as an early childhood development therapist, I read and analyze studies a lot. I recently came across many studies that show being barefoot makes you smarter.
I am always researching the latest studies and trends on how to improve child development, increase cognitive abilities, boost early brain development and focus on positive mental health, amount other things.
Yesterday I came across an interesting study that showed that being barefoot benefits brain development. I know that early experiences to different textures during critical periods of a child’s life are important, but the proof that it helps a baby’s brain and a child’s brain is the icing on the cake.
I already knew that infants and young children learned a lot from being barefoot in the early years while they play. It helps them understand spatial awareness, it gives them a sense of different textures under their feet (this can be great therapy for a sensory child), and it helps their feet develop naturally instead of conforming to the shape of the shoes… but did you know that it also makes them smarter, happier & healthier?
According to author Rae Pica, an education consultant specializing in the development and education of the whole child and children’s physical activity, being barefoot benefits everyone. Rae has found scientific evidence that proves that being barefoot is better.
“Among other things, it’s important to the development of the nervous system and to optimal brain development as well! Turns out the feet are the most nerve-rich parts of the human body, which means they contribute to the building of neurological pathways in the brain. Covering them in shoes, therefore, means we’re eliminating all kinds of opportunities for children’s brains to grow new neural connections.”
She goes on to say that all of the concerns about germs and injury are valid, but that our skin is “designed to keep pathogens out. We’re much more likely to become ill from touching something with our hands.” and ” being barefoot actually toughens up the bottom of the feet, so unless children are walking through a construction site full of nails, the likelihood that they’ll injure themselves is slim.”
Another study found that adults and children alike were found to benefit from walking barefoot on any natural outdoor surface (not sidewalks or streets, but more like grass, sand, and dirt). MindBodyGreen suggested that it makes us healthier. They found that between The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, the Journal of Environmental and Public Health, among other publications, there is a lot of evidence to prove that walking barefoot is good for you now and in the long term.
According to those studies, walking barefoot can lower toxic stress, regulate stress responses, boost immunity, decrease the risk of heart disease, regulate the nervous system, lower the risk of diabetes and even improve your skin. Many of these benefits add years of life to you and your family.
In another study by Natural Child Magazine, Dr. Kacie Flegal, D.C., suggests that when children are barefoot, it allows a development of higher brain centers, which allows for better problem-solving skills, language skills, social skills, regulation of emotions and confidence.
All in all, I’d say if your kids forget to wear shoes outside when they run out to play – don’t fret! Get out there with them and feel the sand between your toes. 😉
It’s ok to let them get dirty.