This article is the fifth in a series of posts exploring the Essential Six Elements of Whole Health, the core of our health philosophy and the foundation for our work with our nutritional therapy clients.
More often than not, movement is best done outside, in the fresh air, where you can take advantage of the added benefits of sunshine, being surrounded by Nature and grounding with the Earth.
Fresh air is so important, and while “fresh air” is a slightly a relative term these days due to pollution in the environment, cities and even suburban neighborhoods, it’s still a good idea to get outside and breathe it in.
The outside air has rejuvenative benefits, and it used to be common practice for hospitals to wheel their patients outside every day for time in the sun and fresh air. Unfortunately, this healing action is no longer in practice, replaced by contaminated indoor air and fluorescent lighting.
When possible, it’s preferable to spend some time in an area, like a park, nature preserve, forest, beach or other area with more natural elements than manmade, as the plants (and ocean) have ionizing and purification effects on the air, which heightens its benefit.
When you make direct contact with the Earth, by standing, walking barefoot, sitting or lying on the ground, your body actually becomes electrically grounded. This process is also referred to as “earthing”.
Throughout history, civilizations around the world honored connectedness to the Earth and described the energy of the Earth in different ways.
Humans have strolled, sat, stood, and slept on the ground—the skin of their bodies touching the “skin” of the Earth—oblivious to the fact that such physical contact transfers natural electrical energy to the body.
Earthing research is now explaining and validating, in scientific terms, the importance of this connectedness to our human functioning.
Modern lifestyle has increasingly disconnected us from this energy, making us more vulnerable to stress and illness. The constant wearing of insulated shoes, those with plastic or rubber soles, are one example of this daily disconnection.
It’s simple to reconnect with the Earth, with the simplest way being to walk barefoot out in the grass, preferably in the early morning dew, and on grass not treated with chemical lawn products.
This isn’t practical or available for everyone though, unfortunately, so there are special earthing pads, sheets and other products that you can use indoors and connect to the Earth through the grounding plug on an electrical socket.
The sun is one of the most amazing influences on our lives and the lives of all the plants and animals on Earth.
We literally need the sun to live and adequate sun exposure is absolutely vital to our health. In recent years, however, the sun has become something to be feared and we are admonished to slather ourselves and our children in sunscreen every day in order to protect us from skin cancer.
Unfortunately, this has turned out to be bad advice, and not only are we suffering from an epidemic deficiency of Vitamin D (which we synthesize from sunlight exposure), but we are suffering skin cancer from the very thing that is supposed to protect us from it- sunscreen.
While it is true that routinely experiencing sunburns can lead to skin cancer (and skin damage), normal healthy sun exposure actually PROTECTS us from cancer! In addition, Vitamin D, mentioned above, is a crucial vitamin that we must have in order to have healthy immune and endocrine systems.
Sunlight also plays a psychological role in our health, boosting our spirits and mood. It also regulates our sleep-wake cycle and our circadian rhythm, or body clock. Decreased exposure to bright sunlight can lead to depression, insomnia and a dysregulated endocrine (hormonal) system.
Many people begin feeling overwhelmed with all they have to do to remain healthy, on top of already overbooked schedules. This Element is one in which all of the components can easily be combined together for a simple way to stay healthy.
Just get outside, in the sun and fresh air, spend some time stretching, taking deep breaths, moving in a way that feels right to you and admiring the beauty of the Earth and you’ll be headed in the right direction.
The next installment in the Essential Elements series is Essential Element Five: Thoughts & Emotions.