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Last Updated on January 17, 2018

Scientists Discover Why You Should Take Off Your Shoes Before Entering Your Home

Scientists Discover Why You Should Take Off Your Shoes Before Entering  Your Home

It was only when I had a Japanese guest visit that I realized the importance of taking off my shoes before entering the house. As many Japanese eat on tatami mats on the floor and sleep on futons that are rolled out at night, it seems perfectly logical to keep shoes at the door. In fact, this is the norm in most Asian countries. Yet, interestingly, many European and American families never bother to insist on leaving shoes at the door.

Now, science is backing up this hygienic practice and revealing that what you pick up on your shoes is not just a few germs and dirt, but rather nasty customers who should never be allowed into your home! This is particularly important when you have toddlers rolling around the floor.

Which nasty bacteria are you bringing home?

Researchers at the University of Houston found that about 40% of shoes were carrying the nasty “C.diff” bacterium, which stands for Clostridium difficile. These spores are not at all easy to treat.

The study found that this C.diff was not only on shoe soles (about 40% of the total examined), but also spread around other household areas such as toilets, tops and surfaces, and wherever floor dust was found. These spores can live on dry surfaces for a long time.

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The problem with treating an infection caused by C.diff is that it is resistant to most antibiotics. This can cause the bacterium to proliferate and make recovery very difficult for the patient. The linings in the intestines are attacked, resulting in colitis. Many people in hospitals pick up the C.diff infection and it is becoming more difficult to treat.

Now, you don’t want this bacteria as a guest in your home, do you? Off with the shoes and on with the slippers.

What else is on those shoe bottoms?

Well, there will be a disgusting quantity of dust, bird droppings, dog poop, leafy debris and other unwanted matter. The leafy stuff acts as a breeding ground for bacteria.

“That means potentially harmful bacteria can survive on your shoes for days or even weeks.”- Dr. Reynolds, microbiologist, University of Arizona

The University of Arizona decided to assess the quantity of bacteria and they were not disappointed – they found 421,000 different units! These can be categorized into 9 different strains. They are the cause of infections in the eyes, lungs and stomach. Two of these are certainly worth mentioning so you can reach for your slippers the moment you get home.

The first one is known as E.coli (a pathogenic organism) and it makes up about a third of all bacteria so it is a heavyweight. E.coli strains are mostly harmless, thank goodness, but the nasty ones (like E.coli 0157:H7) are not. They often cause severe stomach and intestinal problems leading to vomiting and diarrhea. Now, you might think the risk of contacting the E.coli bacteria from your shoes is minimal. But let me ask you a question: How many times did you visit the restrooms at work today?

Another type of bacteria the researchers found was the Klebsiella pneumoniae which is known to cause severe damage to the lungs and lead to pneumonia. The death rate from this bacteria is high at 50% and can reach 100% when people are suffering from alcoholism.

What you can do to have a healthier and cleaner home

There are so many advantages in taking off those shoes and wearing slippers. You will have to clean the house less often and your floor coverings will last longer, thus saving you lots of money. Your shoes will last longer, too!

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Keep a shoe rack or basket near the door so that everyone does it automatically, as soon as they get home.

Your house will be much healthier and cleaner. If you have toddlers, they can safely play on the floor and you need not worry about them. Another great advantage is that if you go barefoot, you will be stimulating your foot pressure points — for you reflexology enthusiasts. The Chinese have been doing that for 5,000 years!

Finally, your neighbors downstairs will start smiling at you again as they no longer hear the clip-clop of your shoes, up and down, morning and night!

But perhaps Al Franken put it best:

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“It’s easier to put on slippers than to carpet the whole world.”

Featured photo credit: 28/365 These might be the dirtiest shoes I own now/ Liz Mc via flickr.com

More by this author

Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Last Updated on December 2, 2018

How to Flow Your Way to a More Productive Life

How to Flow Your Way to a More Productive Life

Ebb and flow. Contraction and expansion. Highs and lows. It’s all about the cycles of life.

The entire course of our life follows this up and down pattern of more and then less. Our days flow this way, each following a pattern of more energy, then less energy, more creativity and periods of greater focus bookended by moments of low energy when we cringe at the thought of one more meeting, one more call, one more sentence.

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The key is in understanding how to use the cycles of ebb and flow to our advantage. The ability to harness these fluctuations, understand how they affect our productivity and mood and then apply that knowledge as a tool to improve our lives is a valuable strategy that few individuals or corporations have mastered.

Here are a few simple steps to start using this strategy today:

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Review Your Past Flow

Take just a few minutes to look back at how your days and weeks have been unfolding. What time of the day are you the most focused? Do you prefer to be more social at certain times of the day? Do you have difficulty concentrating after lunch or are you energized? Are there days when you can’t seem to sit still at your desk and others when you could work on the same project for hours?

Do you see a pattern starting to emerge? Eventually you will discover a sort of map or schedule that charts your individual productivity levels during a given day or week.  That’s the first step. You’ll use this information to plan your days going forward.

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Schedule According to Your Flow Pattern

Look at the types of things you do each day…each week. What can you move around so that it’s a better fit for you? Can you suggest to your team that you schedule meetings for late morning if you can’t stand to be social first thing? Can you schedule detailed project work or highly creative tasks, like writing or designing when you are best able to focus? How about making sales calls or client meetings on days when you are the most social and leaving billing or reports until another time when you are able to close your door and do repetitive tasks.

Keep in mind that everyone is different and some things are out of our control. Do what you can. You might be surprised at just how flexible clients and managers can be when they understand that improving your productivity will result in better outcomes for them.

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Account for Big Picture Fluctuations

Look at the bigger picture. Consider what happens during different months or times during the year. Think about what is going on in the other parts of your life. When is the best time for you to take on a new project, role or responsibility? Take into account other commitments that zap your energy. Do you have a sick parent, a spouse who travels all the time or young children who demand all of your available time and energy?

We all know people who ignore all of this advice and yet seem to prosper and achieve wonderful success anyway, but they are usually the exception, not the rule. For most of us, this habitual tendency to force our bodies and our brains into patterns of working that undermine our productivity result in achieving less than desired results and adding more stress to our already overburdened lives.

Why not follow the ebb and flow of your life instead of fighting against it?

    Featured photo credit: Nathan Dumlao via unsplash.com

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