When workouts are mentioned the word ‘squat’ is rarely mentioned. It’s too bad, because it’s arguably the most important exercise each of us should be performing on a regular basis and it can be done anywhere, any time for absolutely free.

Origins of Squatting

Squats originated long before the age of furniture.  Squatting made life easier as it gave people the freedom to sit wherever they choose; have dinner without a table and chairs, play dice in the street, read a book or take a coffee break.

Aside from convenience, there are tremendous health benefits to squatting. 

Why Everyone Should Squat More Often

On average we sit 8 hours a day, and that average is rising. Unfortunately this results in stiffness and weakness in our backs, legs, hips, calves, and ankles.

When Westerners embraced sitting in cars, at desks, in front of the TV, we started to lose suppleness and strength in the legs and flexibility in the hips, calves, and ankles. The abdomen and lower back muscles also suffered when we started sitting on chairs, because backrests allow us to slack off and neglect our core muscles.

Squats mean exertion and burning thighs which doesn’t appeal to the sedentary folks, but the payoff is huge.  Below are some of the top reasons:

1 Squats Burn Body Fat:  We need muscle to effectively burn carbohydrates and prevent them from being turned into triglycerides.  The more strength/muscle you add to your body, the better your body is at burning fat.  It’s that simple.  Our goal is to push carbohydrate traffic to muscle and squatting on a regular basis is a great way to accomplish that since you are adding greater carbohydrate parking space by engaging larger muscles.  More muscle parking space means less goes towards body fat production and triglyceride production.

2 Squats Can Prevent/Reverse Diabetes: This too is related to carb trafficking.  Muscle cells have a special receptor on their cell surface called Glut-4 which suck glucose molecules from your bloodstream into your muscle cells like a mini vacuum cleaner, lowering your blood glucose levels.  Working larger muscles like your legs will remove more glucose than if you were to focus on smaller muscles.  In other words, squats aren’t just good for your glutes…they’re also great for your glucose-reducing Glut-4s!  So trade in some of those dumbbell curls for some deep squats. 

3 Squats Promote Anti-Aging:  Have you noticed how your parents or elder family members start walking as they age.  They slow down, they walk with a wider stance for stability, they start using a cane, a walker, and it’s all downhill from there.  As we age, we naturally start losing some muscle and if you do a lot of sitting, that accelerates even more muscle loss.  Young people are already showing signs of early degenerative arthritis and knee pain due to prolonged sitting.  These are 30-year-olds who might be using a walking stick by age 50.  In fact leg strength is one of the most powerful predictors of disability later in life.  Squatting also prevents osteoporosis by improving bone density.  I don’t know about you, but my post-retirement plans don’t involve using canes or walkers.

4 Squats Can Eliminate Knee Pain:  Unless you tore cartilage in your knee from an injury or have some other mechanical disorder in your knee, doing squats and strengthening your legs will eliminate most causes of knee pain.  Most knee pain results from a lack of strength in the surrounding muscles supporting the knee.  Unfortunately, people respond by doing less leg training and the problem just gets worse.  In the early stages knee pain may get slightly worse, but then once you make some strength gains, your knee pain is gone forever.  

5 Further and Jump Higher: Virtually any athletic pursuit you do is improved by squatting. If you’re a runner, rather than piling on more miles to your training week, try adding a few days of squatting and you will see your performance in running or any sport  improve by leaps and bounds…literally!  You’ll also reduce the risk of common runner’s injuries and strains since you are reducing repetitive stress from overtraining and strengthening muscles to support your stride.

6 Squatting Is Wired Into Your DNA: Each of us were born to squat, until those darn chairs came along.  In the few areas of the world where chairs and modern toilets haven’t taken over, it’s still the preferred way that people sit, socialise, and go to the bathroom.

Yoga restores what we’ve lost. Malasana, or Garland Pose, is a yogi’s squat. In it you utilise the complete range of motion of the legs by bending the knees fully until the pelvis is resting at the back of the heels.

Regular practice of Malasana help us undo the damage of our Western lifestyle.