Squats aren't exercise -- they're a way God designed us to move that helps us regulate everything and enjoy better health.
When you think about squats, what comes to mind? If you’re like most Americans, you intrinsically associate them with exercise; everything from dance to Pilates to football incorporates squats as an essential part of training. But squats aren’t merely an exercise — they’re a primal movement.
Primal movements are those basic human motions that babies develop in their first two years of life. Think pushing, pulling, bending, extending, lunging, rotating, crawling, walking, and yes, squatting. Basically these are the movements that God designed us to do … not in a gym but all day, every day. In fact, our bodies rely on these movements to stay healthy. When we stop moving the way we’re created to move, we run into problems. The squat reigns supreme in its importance for total body health.
But why is squatting such a big deal?
Here are 4 reasons why squatting is the single most important movement we should be incorporating in our daily lives.
1Squats use all the muscles
Properly done, a squat engages every muscle from the neck down. Sure, the biggest muscles in the legs (quads, hamstrings, glutes) are the primary movers. But done right, a squat also engages our pelvic muscles, hip flexors, core, shoulders, upper back, and chest. If you’re wondering what a “proper” squat looks like, just check out your nearest toddler. Toddlers have perfect squats. They drop their bottoms between their legs, below their knees, while keeping their chest and head upright. If you’ve ever tried to mimic this, you might have noticed that it’s … not easy. That’s partially a result of muscular weakness, but the bigger culprit is lack of joint flexibility. Which brings us to …
2Squats make healthy joints
One of the reasons Americans have such a hard time squatting is because of how much time we spend sitting. Constant sitting keeps the muscles we use to stand in flexion, eventually shortening them over time and thus decreasing the range of motion in our joints. This eventually leads to a whole host of subsequent injuries like planar fasciitis, bursitis, low back pain, and even spinal disc compression. By learning to squat, we’re re-teaching our joints and muscles to move through their full range of motion, bringing all the joints in our body back into balance.
3Squats make our bones healthy
Our bones aren’t made super-strong and then gradually diminish over time — in fact, the density of our bones varies over the years in response to hormones, stress, and most importantly, exertion. When we lift heavy things or load our muscles with the weight of our body, the tissue that connects the muscles and bones pulls on the bone, creating stress that prompts the bone to get stronger through a process called remineralization, which increases the density of our bones. The opposite of this process leads to the bone disease osteoporosis — a serious condition that decreases both quality and length of life. If you’ve ever known an elderly person who fractured a hip, you know how serious this can be; it often leads to life-threatening complications. Squatting keeps the bones in our body dense, strong, and well-nigh unbreakable.
4Squats make our guts healthy
Did you know that colon cancer is the second deadliest form of cancer in America? I didn’t. Did you know that it’s also over 90% preventable? I did, in fact, know that … that knowledge is why the toilets in our house are all equipped with squatty potties, a raised platform that elevates your feet and puts your body in a squat position, rather than a sitting position. It’s very difficult to properly eliminate the colon in a sitting position. God designed us to squat for such business — as evidenced by the magnificence of the toddler squat. Colon cancer is a uniquely Western disease precisely because we don’t squat anymore — we sit. Yes, you heard me right — your toilet could be killing you. If nothing else on this list has appealed to you, this is the kicker.
If we want to honor God with our bodies as well as our minds, it’s time to move them the way they were designed to move. So go ahead … drop it like a squat.
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