Are you afraid of doing squats because it may damage your knees? Worry no more: research says that the squat, when done properly, can actually improve your knee stability and strengthen your connective tissues.
Dr. Joseph Mercola highly recommends doing the squat, saying that it is a simple and relatively easy exercise that you can include in your workout routine. It doesn’t even require any exercise equipment.
“If you’re looking for a powerful way to boost your overall fitness and get some serious results — fast — from your workout routine, look no further than the squat,” he says.
How Can Squats Benefit Your Health?
Although it is considered a “leg exercise,” the squat actually offers numerous benefits to your entire body. Here are some of the benefits of doing squats:
1. Squats are a “functional exercise” that can help you do real-life activities with ease. Unlike exercises that allow you to operate gym equipment, functional exercises are those that help you do real-life activities. The squat is a great functional exercise, especially since humans have been doing it since the hunter-gatherer days.
“When you perform squats, you build muscle and help your muscles work more efficiently, as well as promote mobility and balance. All of these benefits translate into your body moving more efficiently in the real world, too,” Dr. Mercola explains.
2. It builds muscles in your whole body. You can build and strengthen your leg muscles (quadriceps, calves, and hamstrings) by doing squats. Dr. Mercola says squats can also create an anabolic environment that promotes muscle building in your entire body.
When done correctly, squats can even trigger human growth hormone and testosterone release. These are essential for muscle growth. Squats also help improve muscle mass when you work out other areas of your body aside from your legs. This means that squats are essential in improving both your upper body and lower body strength.
3. Squats help you burn more fat. Squats help you gain more muscle, which means you burn more calories. Every pound of additional muscle you gain means you burn 50 to 70 calories per day. This means that if you gain 10 pounds of muscle, you automatically burn 500 to 700 more calories per day.
4. It gives you better mobility and balance. Squats make your legs strong, which are necessary to help you stay mobile as you get older. Squats also work out your core and stabilize your muscles – these are important to help you maintain proper balance. Squats also help improve brain-muscle group communication, which helps you avoid falls and is the best way to prevent bone fractures.
5. Doing squats may help you avoid injuries. Having weak muscles, ligaments, and connective tissues are the main reason why athletic injuries happen. By strengthening these areas of your body, you can prevent injuries from occurring. The flexibility of your ankles and hips also improves when you incorporate squats into your workout routine, which may also help prevent injuries.
6. Squats help you jump higher and run faster. Doing squats helps athletes run faster and jump higher. This is the reason why professional athletes are required to have this in their training program.
7. You can tone your buttocks, abs, and whole body if you do squats. Dr. Mercola says squats can help tone and tighten your backside, abs, and your legs. The muscle-building ability of squats also helps you regulate glucose, lipid metabolism, and insulin sensitivity. These help protect you from diabetes, obesity, and heart disease.
8. Squats help your body eliminate waste. The pumping of your body fluids improves when you do squats. It also helps you remove waste and deliver nutrition to your tissues, organs, and glands. Squats also help improve and make your bowel movement more regular.
How to Do a Squat Properly
In this video, personal trainer and coach Darin Steen demonstrates how to do squats at beginner, intermediate, and advanced levels. He highlights six primary steps when doing this exercise:
- Warm up.
- Stand with your feet just over shoulder width apart.
- Keep your back in a neutral position, and keep your knees centered over your feet.
- Slowly bend your knees, hips and ankles, lowering until you reach a 90-degree angle.
- Return to starting position — repeat 15-20 times, for 2-3 sets for beginners (do this two or three times a week).
- Breathe in as you lower; breathe out as you return to starting position.
Squats Should Be Part of Your Comprehensive Fitness Routine
Dr. Mercola has always emphasized the importance of a complete exercise routine, and its role on your physical, mental, and emotional health. Exercise reduces your risk of numerous health conditions, slows down the rate of aging, and even regenerates the energy-producing mitochondria in your cells.
However, he advises against putting too much emphasis on cardio, strength training, or any one type of exercise, as this may only lead to imbalances that can damage your health. Instead, he recommends a fitness regimen that includes aerobic, strength training, and high-intensity interval training, like Peak Fitness.
“As always, as you develop a workout routine that works for you, remember to listen to your body so it can guide you into a path that will provide you with the most efficient and effective benefits,” Dr. Mercola says.