The Hidden Health Benefits of Squats

It’s no big secret the squat exercise is great for the buns, but there are many hidden benefits to this simple yet effective move that you may not realize. When done correctly, squats will help you burn more calories than almost any other move, you can do them anywhere and there are many variations to keep you from hitting those dreaded plateaus.

Form is Everything

One of the main misconceptions about squats is that they’re hard on the knees. Done right, squats can even strengthen knee joints and stabilize your balanced while increasing flexibility and range of motion in hip, knee and ankle joints. That’s one reason form is so important.

  • Make sure to keep your feet shoulder-width apart, with knees and toes pointing forward at all times

– Don’t begin the bend at the knees, but at the hips, moving the butt back and extending your arms forward simultaneously

– Keep your back straight and your shoulders pulled back slightly; your head should also be up, with eyes focused on a specific spot on the wall ahead of you

– Always keep the weight on your heels and your feet flat on the floor

– On your ascent, squeeze the buttocks and drive the heels into the floor; use that force to move your body upright

– The upper and lower body should descend and ascend at the same rate of speed

Hidden Benefits of Squats

You may think this exercise is just for legs and buttocks, but it works more than 200 muscles throughout the body as well as giving you a great cardio boost. In fact, squats are considered one of the most efficient exercises for burning calories, increasing the burn by 50 – 70 calories for every pound of muscle mass you gain. Squats also strengthen core muscles to improve balance and posture.

The positive effects aren’t just limited to toning, flexibility and strength. Doing squats every day also helps your body function better on the inside. It aids in the communication between your brain and your muscles, helping your whole body work more effectively. Building muscle also regulates the systems that regulate lipid an glucose production, increase metabolism and control sensitivity to insulin. These are critical factors in preventing heart disease, obesity and diabetes.

The squatting movement goes way back to the hunter-gatherer days of our prehistoric ancestors. This movement offers a natural way to increase fluid circulation, bringing nutrients and hydration to all body systems more efficiently while removing waste from organs, tissues and glands. Naturally, this also improves the removal of fecal matter and promotes regular bowel movements.

Variations on a Move

For most advantages, the humble squat is all you need. However, you can add to it’s performance with a few simple tweaks. One of these is the overhead squat, which adds a barbell or hands weights to turn doing squats into a full-body workout that improves muscle strength in the upper back. Not only does this release the stress so many of us get from spending time hunched over a computer keyboard or laptop, it improves posture to get rid of those rounded shoulders.

The tweak is to hold the barbell on your shoulders, or hold a light hand weight in each hand at thee top of the shoulders. Instead of extending your arms forward on your descent, raise the weights straight over your head instead, bringing them back to your shoulders on the way up. It doesn’t take a lot of weight to get the added benefits.

Even if you don’t have time for a full workout or a session at the gym, try to incorporate a few rounds of squats every day.

 

Image courtesy of [imagerymajestic] at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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