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3 Amazing Health Benefits of Squats You Need to Know

I always say it — squats are THE foundational exercise. Barring any medical condition that you might have that disallows you to walk or perform squats, for the rest of the population, there is almost no excuse why you should not be squatting. Oftentimes, some of the most nagging injuries afflicting business professionals over age 40 can be linked to a lack of leg strength.



Not only is the squat one of the most effective leg exercises, but the amount of core and upper body muscle engagement required to keep you stable, it helps you gain strength from head to toe.

Squats can be especially helpful in improving muscle strength and joint health, as well as increasing your metabolic rate.

Improved Muscle Strength

Whether you're a male or female, it might not occur to you how important it is to be physically strong until you have to carry a box of files up three flights of stairs or have to move a filing cabinet. In fact, during my first deployment while in the Navy, one of the hardest things I have ever had to lift didn’t take place in a gym, but it was having to move the armored filing cabinet (with classified documents still inside) from one tent to another— that thing was insanely heavy and it wasn’t like there were any handles you could use to make it easier to pick up!

As a busy professional, you have to spend several hours sitting at your desk, which means your muscles are not being used. Because of so much inactivity going on while you’re at work, this may leave you at a higher risk of getting injured if you’re also sedentary outside of work. Being physically active and including squats into your workout plan can help to reduce the risk of injury, particularly in the lower body.

Working under tight deadlines often means having to pick up the pace for several hours. And, not only do you have to be able to work hard for several hours, but you are still expected to produce high quality work. Even if you were to perform bodyweight squats for a couple rounds in your office, this can help to improve endurance and increase stamina, which you may need to working these long hours.

Without quality of life, this could make you feel like you are merely spinning your wheels. While being a hard worker is probably going to help you get noticed and help you move up the ladder, if you do not feel like you’re living your best life, the desire to work hard may not be quite as strong as it could be. Regular exercise, including resistance training like squats, has been shown to improve overall quality of life, including mental and physical health, social functioning, and emotional well-being. This can be important for business professionals who may experience high levels of stress and pressure in their daily lives.

Improved Joint Health

Let’s be honest, before turning 40, you probably thought your relatives and co-workers that are older than you were exaggerating about their joint discomfort, but now that you have entered into your fourth decade, you know better. The best medicine to keep the joints functioning properly is to keep them moving, and the squat is a great way to do that.

Osteoarthritis can put a big damper on moving around without discomfort, so if you don’t want to know what that is like, it would behoove you to do what is necessary to reduce your risk. Squats can help to strengthen the muscles around the knee joint, which can reduce the risk of developing osteoarthritis. You don’t even have to be lifting huge weight like you see on social media; in fact, in many cases, you could save your knees from osteoarthritis by consistently doing bodyweight squats.

Have you ever had a bad back injury? I still remember it like yesterday when I really injured my back. Getting out of bed was a major struggle, and even crossing the street was difficult because of the landing off the curb onto the asphalt was absolutely brutal. In my path to recovery, I performed bodyweight squats at first, then started reintroducing myself to light weight exercises.

After working a long day at the office, do you feel your joints are feeling stiff? This is literally your body’s way to tell you that you need to move more often. Being sedentary in and out of work is only going to make your joints get stiffer and stiffer because you’re not using them. Resistance training, including squats, has been shown to improve overall joint health and reduce the risk of joint pain and stiffness. You can get a 15- or 20-lb dumbbell or kettlebell at Walmart for $20-30 and leave it in your office, then do 2 or 3 sets of 10 repetitions of squats after you’ve been sitting for more than four hours.

Increased Metabolic Rate

By growing more muscle mass, you're effectively increasing your body's metabolic rate, which is what makes exercises, like squats and hip thrusts, so important. It might sound counterintuitive, but did you know that you burn most fat when you’re at rest than when you are working out? Then, as you are recovering after a workout, since your body isn’t in as much need of rapidly available energy, it switches over to fat as being the primary energy source. If the workout was particularly intense, then your body will need to break apart more fat for energy to repair itself.

Squats are a compound (multi-joint) exercise that engage multiple muscle groups, leading to a higher energy expenditure compared to single-joint exercises. Since large muscles are having to work together, this means that they need a lot of oxygen to get to those muscles so they can break apart glycogen (stored carbohydrates) for energy.

Would you like to have a more athletic physique before you go on your next vacation? You don’t necessarily have to starve yourself or force yourself into eating nothing but salad, but you may want to include squats into your workout regimen. In Scott et al. (2011), researchers were able to determine that squats may increase the use of fat for fuel during exercise, which can lead to improved body composition. Not only that, your body is going to need energy to recover after the workout, and this is where fat is burned at a higher rate than when you workout.

Did it ever occur to you that even squats can help you improve your cardiovascular health? Next time you workout, if you have one available, wear a heart rate monitor, and you will notice that your heart rate goes up substantially when performing compound exercises, like the squat. By increasing the heart rate and improving blood flow to the working muscles, squats can be highly effective in improving your cardiovascular health.

Conclusion

When I was a kid going to the Y, I recall seeing guys leaving the weight room with giant arms and pecs, but they almost always had little chicken legs. For some reason, this was a thing in the 80s and early 90s. Those days are gone, and even if you’re just a business professional in your 40s, you shouldn’t allow yourself to have weak, little chicken legs.

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