The most important exercise you’ll ever do – SQUATS

shschicagometro 04 May 2021

You know exercise is good for you, but oftentimes it is difficult to find the time or understand what exercises to perform. The science is clear, squats are the exercise to master. Thankfully, it’s an easy one to incorporate into your daily routine and it will work with your ability and mobility.

Did you know that you will live longer if your legs are stronger?

In one study, 81 elderly patients were followed for a period of 4 years. By the end of the study, 26 people (32%) of the participants had passed. The researchers discovered that the mass of an individual’s thigh muscle was inversely proportional to cardiovascular deaths and all-cause mortality. Larger leg muscle mass equates to a healthy heart and reduced risk of death (Fukasawa H, et al. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2017 Jan;71(1):64-69).

Another study that looked at muscle mass, leg strength, and fat mass in 1,280 men and women 55 and older, showed that your leg strength is the most important factor in determining how well you function and how long you will live. (Bourhard DR, et al. J Aging Health, 2011 March;23(2):313-328).

Why Squats?

They build muscle mass in your thighs, butt, and around the knee joint. The larger the muscle mass, the better your system regulates glucose and blood insulin levels. Your metabolic rate will increase as well. You may even feel an exercise after-burn. This means that calories are burned even during the recovery period after the workout!

They help to regulate your testosterone levels and decrease cortisol (stress hormone) levels. They help increase bone density in the hip and thigh preventing bone fractures. Since they increase leg strength, they improve balance and reduce falls. They help to slow down cognitive decline helping your brain to stay healthy. In one study, the researchers reported that leg strength was a better predictor of brain health than any of the other lifestyle factors. In fact, leg strength was a reliable predictor of both cognitive aging and the degree of loss of total gray matter in the brain. (Steves CJ, et al. Gerontology. 2016;62(2):138-49).

How fast will you see the results?

A study looked at the effects of high intensity, progressive resistance training in a group of frail elderly men and women aged 87-96. After only 8 weeks of strength training, the subjects in this trial increased their muscle strength by 174% and leg muscle mass by 10%. (Evans. J Nutr. May 1, 1997;127(5):9985-10035).

Another study looked at men aged 60-72 strength training 3 times a week for 12 weeks. The average increase in knee flexor strength was 227%, the average increase in knee extensor strength was 107%, and CT scans documented an average 11.5% increase in leg muscle mass. (Frontera WR, et al. J Appl Physiol. 1988 March;64(3):1038-44).

How to squat? 

*You can use a chair or a desk to help you stay balanced.

  1. Assume the squat position and keep your feet about shoulder-width apart and turned out slightly.
  2. Dial your feet into the ground to help activate all muscles.
  3. Keep your chest up.
  4. Bend your knees and push your hips back.
  5. End the movement at whatever depth is pain-free for you.
  6. Stand up by driving your entire foot (heel and big toe) to the ground.
  7. Finish strong by squeezing your butt.

Ready to squat? If you want to learn more, go to and look at our squat videos!

Post contributed by Dominika Hertsberg, DC, CES, E-CYT at Balanced Flow Medical.

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