In case you need an excuse to get muddy, here’s a great one: Today is National Mud Day. Getting dirty often goes hand-in-hand with enjoying time in the great outdoors, and, as it turns out, dirt can also be one of the many aspects of nature that can actually benefit your health. Don’t believe it? Read on.
Videos by Outdoors
Is Mud Healthy? The Satisfyingly Squishy Science
Mud and dirt host microbes that can boost our immune systems as humans. Experts citing the “hygiene hypothesis” have encouraged parents to let their little ones get dirty for the sake of their future health—the idea being that early exposure to parasites, bacteria, and viruses could lessen their chances of developing certain health problems later in life, such as asthma and allergies.
One study suggests Mycobacterium vaccae, a bacteria found in soil, can enhance the activity of T-cells, which help regulate inflammatory responses in the body. This and other research reports seem to be playing catch up, presenting scientific evidence that supports what humans have instinctively known for centuries—that mud can be good for you.
Mud baths and mud therapy have been used as remedies for everything from eczema to osteoarthritis to anxiety and beyond. You can always buy mud in a jar to spread on your face, but perhaps the best way to experience the benefits of mud is to go out into nature and engage in your favorite outdoor activities.
Here are five ideas that’ll get you motivated to go outside and play in the mud.
5 Fun and Acceptable Ways to Play in the Mud
Mud Obstacle Course
There are official mud obstacle courses and mud-run events in major cities around the world, if you want to compete or be part of a big group. You can also create your own muddy obstacle course just for National Mud Day. Do an army crawl through the mud, make a mud mound and climb over it, and then rope swing into a muddy puddle.
Spray down your field to make it muddy and your soccer game just got a lot more fun. No matter what sport you’re into, if you can play it in dirt, you can also play it in mud. Think mud volleyball, mud flag football, or maybe even mud wrestling or mud yoga, if you’re really committed.
Soggy Trail Running or Hiking
Muddy trails don’t have to be a nuisance if you change your point of view, so next time it rains, embrace the squish instead of sheltering inside and skipping your outdoor exercise. You might even get the trail to yourself, if you do.
Make Mud Pies
If you’re a parent, this is one to do with the kids. Dig in with your hands and make some mud pies for some inventive sensory play. Even if you don’t have kids, you can make mud castles and sculptures just for fun (and for some exposure to good microbes, of course). Being outdoors can boost your creativity, so go ahead and let it flow.
Don’t even pretend a mud slide doesn’t sound like a blast. Find or build a slope, make it extra muddy by adding water, and slide down it repeatedly—for your health, obviously. As long as you’re not breaking any rules, sliding around in some mud can be a fun way to spend time with friends or family outdoors.
Do you embrace the dirt and mud during your outdoor adventures? Tell us in the comments below.