The Dirt On Dirt

America’s obesity epidemic has health officials clamoring to get kids off the couch and onto the playground, but surprisingly it’s not just weight that’s at stake when we live a “bubble-boy” lifestyle at home.

In an effort not to expose kids to germs, we’re actually not exposing them to enough germs–impairing their immune systems, fostering allergies, and causing asthma and other autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis and type-one diabetes during adulthood. Kids need to go outside so they can get dirty and come in contact with all the healthy microbes and germs that will ultimately prevent illness.

The benefits of diving into a mud puddle go way past our precious immune systems. Seattle Children’s Dr. Pooja Tandon writes, “Research shows that outdoor time is important for children’s physical activity and also beneficial for their motor skills, learning, vitamin D levels, vision, and mental health.”

In fact, just making contact with dirt increases happiness. Studies show that Mycobacterium vaccae, a bacterium found in soil, triggers a release of serotonin that uplifts moods and decreases anxiety. Playing in dirt is also known to alleviate symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in children. According to a recent study, the 4.4 million children in America struggling with ADHD would benefit from everyday play in green, open spaces.

So remember: there is such a thing as being too clean. Especially for children, a mud puddle can be the best medicine.

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By Kara Foran

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Teresa Wlosowicz
Teresa W.2 years ago

Emelie, keep disinfecting your hands! My mother, who is a doctor, knows better, and she sets great store by disinfecting dirty things.

Teresa Wlosowicz
Teresa W.2 years ago

This is total rubbish. Dirt is harmful to health! I bet Big Pharma wants people to catch various infections to make them buy medicines later, that's why it sponsors such misleading 'research'.

Emelie Hangsel
Past Member 2 years ago

I always use hand desinfection after garden work, maybe I shouldn't :-)

Emelie Hangsel
Past Member 2 years ago

great to know :-)

Elena T.
Elena Poensgen2 years ago

Thank you :)

Danuta Watola
Danuta Watola2 years ago

thanks for sharing

Kathy Perez
Kathy Johnson3 years ago

give those kids their FREEDOM! seriously though. let them play. they will love you for it

Dawn C.

Mud pies and worms in bait paper dishes!

Pat M.
Pat M.3 years ago

Good practical info..

Evelyn Wadsworth
Evelyn W.3 years ago

Bare foot in mud puddles still make me smile at 53 years old.Does that mean that I am in my second childhood?