Squatting for Health

Did You Know…that squatting can help you live longer…and increase the quality of your life?

Before we delve into the dangers of sitting and the benefits of squatting, let’s get out of our chairs to read this article, shall we?

Great!  Now that you’re up, let’s take a look at what happens to your spine… and the effects that has on your body…when you’re seated.

Your Spine on Chairs 

  • When standing, your spine is curved into a natural, relaxed position.  There’s a balanced distribution of pressure on your discs, and the muscles of your low back are appropriately engaged and relaxed.
  • When sitting, the curvature of your spine has to adjust.  Sitting exerts uneven pressure on your discs, the lumbar portion of your spine no longer naturally bows forward, and the muscles of your low back are so disengaged that they rarely move.  With prolonged sitting, the muscles of your low back tense up and strain, which is why periodic stretch breaks are imperative!
  • Not only do your back muscles suffer from inactivity and strain, but your upper body also compresses the discs and muscles in your lower back.

How Sitting Slows Your Metabolism and Makes You Sick 

Prolonged sitting affects your entire body system and harms your overall cellular and metabolic health.  Once you sit down, your metabolism slows drastically, and operates at a capacity 70% less than it does when you are walking.  When you sit for hours at a time, your risk for insulin resistance and eventual type II diabetes increases dramatically… and LDL cholesterol (the type of cholesterol that can lead to heart disease) can also shoot up to dangerous levels.

Researchers link prolonged sitting to low energy, an increased likelihood of weight gain, lower life expectancy, and a greater risk for developing breast and colon cancers.

Squat Like Your Ancestors 

Our bodies aren’t designed to sit as much as to squat.  Our caveman ancestors used their bodies far more functionally than modern humans do.  And among their favorite movements for rest was the basic squat.  In fact, indigenous cultures of today perform far more physical labor than Western populations do, but rarely suffer from lower back pain.  Movement experts believe the squat, as well as other more functional movements, are saving them!

Health benefits of squatting include:

  • Increased joint mobility
  • Looser hips
  • Greater upper and lower body strength
  • Better balance and a reduced risk for falls and bone fractures
  • Decreased risk of injury
  • Better bowel movements

Making the Squat Simple 

If you have trouble squatting, then that’s all the more reason you should do it every day!  Be patient.  You will gain better mobility the more you squat.

  1. Keep your heels around hip/shoulder distance apart.  Point your toes slightly out at a 45-degree angle.
  2. If your heels don’t reach the ground, place a towel or yoga mat underneath them as a bolster.  Keep at it, and your heels will gradually make it to the ground for a full squat.
  3. If your knees or hips are very tight and uncomfortable, you can put some support under your bum, like a step stool, so that you can safely increase your range of motion.

     There’s always time to squat—on the phone, when you’re working on your laptop, when you’re watching TV… just squat!  Your spine and your overall health will thank you.