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5 Health Benefits of Doing Squats Everyday

benefits of squats every day

Squat mastery is an important longevity tool.  As we age we lose our flexibility and mobility creating a cascading effect of physical decline in our lives.  This physical decline leads to poor posture as the body’s guide wire system becomes weaker and less able to hold the body upright.  By squatting everyday using proper squat form a trainee can reverse the effects of this natural decline.

The negative effects of our sedentary lifestyle are now characterized as “sitting disease.”  Sitting disease symptoms include poor posture, chronic fatigue, increased blood pressure, weight gain and a slower metabolism.  These side effects of sitting for too long increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer.  See Dr. James Levine’s article. 

He is an endocrinologist at the Mayo Clinic who studies societal obesity and recommends that people should get moving more often with multiple small goals during the day.  Doing squats everyday can help to combat this inactivity.  The 5 health benefits of doing squats everyday are:

  1. Improve hip and ankle mobility
  2. Strengthen the muscle slings of the core
  3. Improve upright posture
  4. Increase overall strength and power
  5. Improve cognitive awareness of the body

Squat Posture

proper squat formProper squat form is essential for reaping the immense benefits from this one compound multi-joint movement.  A baby intuitively understands how to squat perfectly.  Over time the body loses this functionality through multiple factors such as:

  1. Compensatory movement after an injury: When we injure one part of the body other parts of the body are required to pick up the slack often causing us to contort ourselves in different positions to escape the pain or move around the injury.  Even a week’s worth of contortion can cause the body to move differently.
  2. “For every inch of Forward Head Posture, it can increase the weight of the head on the spine by an additional 10 pounds.”   -Kapandji, Physiology of Joints, Vol. 3

    Prolonged sitting:  The more we sit, the more we naturally slump.  This slump contributes to the head forward position as the musclesin the upper back and neck become stretched and less engaged.  The chest muscles shorten and the head is now held forward.  In addition the hip flexors and psoas in the front tighten and shorten while the low back becomes stretched and less engaged.  I often refer to it as “turtle back posture.”  For more information on Forward Head Posture see Dr. Erik Dalton’s site.

Use good squat technique to combat this degradation.  What are the basics of good form?   First it is important to reawaken the connection of the feet to the ground and find a comfortable stance width between the feet.  Feet shoulder width apart or a little wider is a good place to start.  There are three points on the feet that establish our balance – heel, big toe pad and pinky toe pad.  Ranked in emphasis the heel is 1; the big toe pad is 2: and the pinky toe pad is 3.   To gain better foot/ankle stability give the foot tripod exercise on Kelly Doyle’s site a try.  She is a certified Fitness Professional with a Master of Science degree in Kinesiology.

Secondly when a comfortable stance width is achieved the hips should be able to slightly rotate through when squeezing the glutes (butt muscles).  This will help the upper body to find better postural alignment  combating the forward head position described above.   My goal with clients is to help them find their best posture prior to learning how to squat.   When performing this body awareness task everyday and then initiating a squat program the trainee can begin to replace old detrimental postural habits and improve overall strength.

Squat Technique

proper squat formOnce a solid, rooted posture is established it is time to get to work.   Note the squatting baby to the right.  His knees are over his ankles with vertical shins.  His torso is in a neutral position without an arched or rounded low back.  The baby will rise up using leg power alone.  How can the average person relearn this primordial skill?  Start by learning to squat using a door frame or post using the stance established above.

proper squat form

Once facing the door frame with your comfortable stance reach your arms out in front of you about chest height and grab the molding or post on either side with your fingertips.  Now let your knees drift wide and start to sit down not leaning forward using the frame or post to keep your torso upright.  When the trainee learns how to stabilize their body in a more upright position they engage their lower abs.  This is lost functionality when sitting for long periods of time in a slumped position.

proper squat formWalk your hands down as you lower your body.   As the body lowers the knees CANNOT come over the toes.  Make sure to push the knees away from each other to create more mobile hips and take the pressure off the knees.  This will allow you to sit deeper.  Take time to develop better hip/ankle flexibility and don’t force sitting too deep too soon.  Flexibility will come with daily practice.  Engage the three balance points of the feet discussed earlier to push back up walking the hands back to the start position for stability.  Stay connected with the feet through the whole range of motion.

proper squat formIncorporating this movement into your daily routine takes about 15 minutes.  I recommend starting off with 2 sets of 10-12 reps daily to ingrain a new neuromuscular pathway.   As your strength and mobility improve vitality increases.  My clients find that tasks that seemed overwhelming or unattainable all of a sudden become easier to perform.  The body finds a new synergy that allows it to overcome and improve overall movement.  To take your squats to the next level check out – 5 Phase Squat Mastery Blog.

 

Success Story

Dawn Massey is one of my personal training clients.  She is a 72 year old mother of 4 and grandmother of 6.  We began working together 3 years ago.  She now trains legs using a suspension trainer as well as kettlebell sumo deadlifts and goblet squats.  Her flexbility and mobility have soared through consistent, focussed practice.  She can pull a 72lb kettlebell for 8 reps and just this past week graduated to a 35lb kettlebell for 8 reps in her goblet squats.

Below is a video of her squatting using a suspension trainer called CrossCore using pristine form.  This suspension trainer is superior to others on the market because of its patented pulley pin engagement system.  When the pin is removed a greater level of instability is created, forcing the body into dynamic stabilization.  Dynamic stabilization occurs when abdominals, spinal extensors and gluteal muscles work in coordination with each other and intra-abdominal pressure is regulated by the central nervous system.

Click here for more information on the Crosscore Suspension Trainer.  It is a game changer for home training!

Conclusion

The question is:  Are you ready to get off the couch and combat your sitting disease?   Fight back against the tide of aging and get moving with good squat technique.   This exercise performed daily can ignite and prolong your life force.  To take your squat to the next level check out Marty Gallagher’s Purposeful Primitive Squat Progressions.

 

Stacy Gallagher

18 Comments

  1. Great article Stacy, This is right, the older we get, the more sitting we do. your article has touched, right on the subject. Staying active and exercising our bodies, as we get older, will improve life expectancy.

  2. Love your post and blog. Thanks so much for sharing. It’s the little things, sometimes that go a long way, isn’t it? I see some more squats in my future, so thanks for the good reminder.

  3. Who doesn’t want to live longer? With New Years around the corner I have made my goal to focus a little more on myself by getting back into shape. With a 1 year old in the house I have fell off the fitness wagon for the past year and now it’s time to hop back on. I have never really considered squats but after reading with my should include them into my workouts. Super informative post thanks!!!

    • Thanks Nathan! Daily squats is a great way to reconnect with the body. I wish you luck in the new year with your fitness goals. Doing a little something everyday can breed enthusiasm for future efforts.

  4. I like to do squats. People in the gym think that I’m crazy but the truth is every time I have to train legs, I do Squats. At the end of the exercise I swear I feel like I really worked out like I have to.

    Now, I have a question for you. My partner do not like to work out, and it worries me because she gets sick frequently.

    She also complains that her but is not in a great shape… I have tried to tell her to do a squat challenge or something.

    One of the things I’ll do is show her your article, but I want to know if you can help me out by showing me a squat challenge for beginners that keep people motivated?

    Thank you and I hope you have a fantastic day.

    • I appreciate the read.  I often start beginner squatters with 1-2 sets of 10 reps every day to help ingrain good form.  Folks have lost connection with their bodies and I find that this is a good start without overwhelming them.  Also it helps to establish a better mind-muscle connection over time.  This generally submaximal approach sneaks up on progress incrementally.  I cannot emphasize enough the good form is the key to reaping benefits from squats.  If your partner is really interested in giving daily squats a try, please feel free to have her contact me at stacygallagher@functional-strength.org with any questions.  

  5. Hi,
    I have just recently started exercising and squats are my pet hate, but i have to do them to strengthen my muscles as i have had partial knee replacements.
    The good thing that you have shown is how to do them properly, so i have some encouragment there.
    In order to not overdue squats how many would you suggest i do a week ?as i wouldnt want to cause any damage.
    The 72 year old lady looks pretty fit , good on her,
    Thanks for the info.

    • The assisted squats I illustrated are the best way to start then you can take your time to feel the movement and not force things.  The act of the knees going wide activates the hip joint which is a rotational joint where the knee is not.  Also play with your foot stance.  The wider the feet go the easier it is to access the hip.  I would start with one session of 10 reps a day.  Treat each rep as a stand alone while you learn the movement and find your balance within the movement.  As you get stronger and more coordinated the flow of the exercise will come.  My friend Dawn (72 year old) has been working with me for 3 years.  We slowly worked on her hip flexibility to get her to what you saw in the video.  She will tell anyone who will listen that these kind of squats fixed her chronic knee pain.  Please feel free to contact me at somg@embarqmail.com should you have any additional questions or concerns.

  6. This is a great article that will help me to keep on my exercise plan, Dawn looks great, my goal is to be healthier as I’m getting older, so this article is a great motivation for me.

    • Thank you for the read! Dawn developed that great squat style over the period of 2 years. She was so clumsy at first. Now she craves the movement to open up her body. Good luck on your fitness journey!

  7. Wow, this is such a useful article, I usually am very active in my lifestyle but I never knew before that squats are really very beneficial Especially everyday. I love the way you have explained everything along with pictures and anatomy. Thank you so much for sharing such a useful read.

  8. I am a teacher and I want to gain a better way to get active the whole day ahead and exercises are the best way for me to be active.

    • Thank you for your comment! Doing a set of squats everyday as part of a morning mobility regimen can have great long-term effects throughout the whole day. You might also want to consider a walking regimen that incorporates variety of terrain for better conditioning.

      Good Luck,
      Stacy

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