Running barefoot is better than running with shoes for your working memory, according to a new study published by researchers at the University of North Florida.
The experiment, designed by lead researcher Dr. Ross Alloway, undertaken with Dr. Tracy Alloway, associate professor, both from the Department of Psychology at UNF, and Dr. Peter Magyari, associate professor in the Department of Clinical and Applied Movement Sciences at UNF, is the first to show that running barefoot leads to better cognitive performance than running with shoes.
Working memory, our ability to recall and process information, is used throughout our lifespan. By improving it, we may be able to realize gains in key areas, from school to work to retirement.
"Working memory is increasingly recognized as a crucial cognitive skill, and these findings are great news for people looking for a fun way to boost their working memory," said Tracy Alloway.
The UNF researchers enlisted 72 participants between the ages of 18 and 44, who ran both barefoot and wore shoes at a comfortable, self-selected pace for approximately 16 minutes. Working memory was measured before and after running.
The results of this research, just published in Perceptual and Motor Skills, found a significant increase -- approximately16 percent -- in working memory performance in the barefoot-running condition. There was no significant increase in working memory when running with shoes. Additionally, the speed and heart rate of the participants was measured but neither was found to have any impact on working memory performance.
"The little things often have the greatest impact. This research shows us that we can realize our cognitive potential and enjoy ourselves at the same time," said Ross Alloway. "If we take off our shoes and go for a run, we can finish smarter than when we started."
When running barefoot, one often has to avoid stepping on potentially hurtful objects by using precise foot placement. As a result, study participants were required to step on flat objects to simulate running barefoot in an outdoors context. Though participants stepped on the flat objects with shoes and barefoot, only the barefoot condition saw improvements in working memory.
According to Ross Alloway, it's possible that the barefoot condition required a more intensive use of working memory because of the extra tactile and proprioceptive demands associated with barefoot running, which may account for the working memory gains.
Materials provided by University of North Florida. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.
Picture this! One evening in early March, you go about the last few minutes before bed planning what you are going to do the next day. You have just pulled off your socks, and barefoot for the first time since the morning, you lay out next to your bed the attire you plan to wear the next day. Some hours later, that alarm on your nightstand goes off and craving those few minutes of extra sleep, you hit the snooze one or two times. Finally after battling with your subconscious, you roll out of bed. You pad over to your sink in your bare feet, and wash up, brush your teeth and proceed to get dressed for the day, putting on that jacket and tie, blouse or dress. The time seems to flash by and you realize that you'd better hit the road.
Forgot Your Shoes?
You rush out the door and while waiting for the bus or train, or waiting to receive a package at the UPS office, you casually glance around. Your eyes are drawn to the shmorgasborg of footwear that is surrounding you. A pair of running sneakers paired with ankle socks. Next to that a pair of worn out scuffed up work boots flanked by a pair of jeans. A lady wearing a pair of elegant high heel boots with stockings making her legs appear as they were dipped in a bottle of indian ink. As you shift your stance, you feel your toes bend and as soon as your heel lands softly but unimpeded on the cool pavement, you realize that something is quite not right, but at the same time, it is so right.
You finally force yourself to look down and much to your shock, that your toes are in plain view and between your bare soles and the ground exists nothing in between. Before you tell yourself to snap out of it - it is only your imagination, something brings you back to reality when the lady beside you asks matter-of-factly, "forgot your shoes?"
You look down again and tell yourself that it can't be. But there are your toes staring back up at you. You feel the pavement underneath get colder as your foot feels the reality underneath. You lift up one foot and turn it in to notice your bare sole, now blackened from having not worn any footwear since the night before. You put your bare foot back down and look around again to realize that all those looks of those around you - some chuckles, some in shock or slight smiles - are fixed on your bare feet - quite a rare sight!Not even a pair of socks or the most minimalist footwear like flip flops - your feet in the raw! You feel like you're having one of those nightmares where you are naked in the company of everyone around you that is clothed.
Chances are you may react by clutching the side of your head in disbelief as you utter - "OMG! I can't believe I forgot to put on my shoes and socks! How was I barefoot this whole time?!"
You are ready to panic and dash home if you are close enough to scramble into your shoes and socks. If you are far from home already, you resign yourself to the fact you're somewhat naked - stuck in your bare feet while you toggle through your mind looking for first excuse you can find to tell them that you're going be late for your job or interview - any way to avoid of being seen "GASP" barefoot!
Now rest assured, chances are that since putting on footwear before leaving your home is so routine, it is highly unlikely that this will ever happen to you.
Let's say it did, however. Another feeling comes over you. You shrug and smile at those around you as if to say, "hey, look at that. I'm barefoot on a cool winter day!" It could actually be fun and you may relish in the fact that while others are bundled up, their feet separated from the outside world in their shoes and socks, here you are experiencing full freedom by feeling the cool ground underneath your bare feet.
I know I do. Many times I'm asked if I forgot my shoes. The question tends to be irrelevant since most of the time I don't wear shoes or socks at all.
Sometimes the answer is yes - since I'm so used to having absolutely nothing on my feet, those seldom occasions where I feel that footwear might make a favorable first impression, I'll end up anyway forgetting to bring along my footwear and end up coming to my appointments or meetings barefoot.
But rather than panicking, I end up being thrilled as I look forward to another day of living a healthy lifestyle in my naturally reliable bare feet and go forward with what I was planning to do for the day.
Barefoot as a Healthy Lifestyle
Guys, how many of you enjoy that feeling of getting home after a long day of work, and kicking off your shoes and peeling off those socks? And ladies in those uncomfortable heels, how great a relief is it to relieve your feet of that constraining feeling as well as peeling off those hose! As soon as your feet are breathing and your bare soles hit the floor or carpet, you feel like a new person, right?
Now how about those days when you go to the park or at the beach, you rush to be the first one to ditch your footwear and feel the cool grass under your soles or ocean waves brushing between your toes! Invigorating, right?
Now, just imagine experiencing that relief for an entire day. Your heels, arches, and toes are able happily stretch and breath without the constraints of anything on them. No waiting til you get home to bring your feet back to their natural state - bare - after almost ten nonstop hours in the office, or running around. Just imagine that feeling for an entire day. If you can imagine that, imagine being in that blissful state for multiple days at a time?
If you haven't imagined it, no need to worry, I don't imagine it either since, to begin with I almost never wear any kind of footwear. So rather than using my imagination, I get to live the experience of allowing my bare soles be in contact with every surface uninteruppted 24/7 and live the barefoot healthy lifestyle!
Living A Barefoot Healthy Lifestyle
Many people are realizing the health benefits of going barefoot. There are many articles written, and several health and wellness specialists are highly recommending it.
However, although there is a wealth of resources pertaining to the health benefits of bare feet, it seems that most of Western society looks at it as a something unsanitary, uncivilized and unprofessional while the most fashionable shoes, however uncomfortable and constraining they may be for your feet are seen as sophisticated and fashionable.
For the person who is educated about the benefits of going barefoot and conscious having healthy feet, unless he lives in a barefoot society, this can actually cost him his livelihood and social life. and it is for this reason that I created this site and named it the Barefoot Healthy Lifestyle.
The Barefoot Healthy Lifestyle is more than just about the joys of going barefoot. In this site I provide ideas and examples about how to implement your lifestyle choice. Your lifestyle choice consists of three components:
Health - as this site will show you through the careful research of articles and cases, the health benefits of going barefoot far outweigh the benefits of shoes. You will have the knowledge to present to anyone that challenges your lifestyle.
Wealth - This is a key determining factor about making your lifestyle choice. We all need to put food on the table, pay our bills and support ourselves and our families. But the question is do we need to sacrifice the things we are most passionate about? This will not bring happiness or even wealth. Wealth is not necessarily about having a ton of money and material possessions. Rather it is about having the freedom of choice how you want to live.
Does your work mainly get you by on your daily expenses or are you able to decide on the choice of the lifestyle you want to live.
Since I made the choice to be barefoot every minute of the day, I ruled out the option of a corporate 9-5 job carefully researching my other options and finding many that earn way more income than the 9-5 life.
In other sections in this site I will delve further about how you can earn a substantial income without having to compromise your lifestyle. If fact after you've gone through this site you will have the ability to earn more than the nine to five employee forced to comply with the office dress code
Freedom - Freedom is having the ability to live a lifestyle you want, deal with who you want, where you want and when you want. In living a life based on wages rather then profit, this is next to impossible.
Since freeing my feet and living a healthier lifestyle my goal is to help like-minded people achieve the same goals while accumulating wealth so you will never have to comply with someone else's rules and thus attain the freedom to maintain the lifestyle of your choice!
The Barefoot Healthy Lifestyle promotes the pleasure of being barefoot any time and any place you choose. You will learn and teach others how they can live a not only a healthier more prosperous lifestyle - and of their choice!
So kick off your shoes, take off your socks, flex those bare feet, wiggle your toes, and experience the joys of the Barefoot Healthy Lifestyle!
The author writes about giving valuable tips to promote foot health for acute and ongoing foot problems and pain on top of foot [http://www.painontopoffoot.us/]
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