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Why Squats are an Essential Exercise for Seniors

So many seniors tend to think about squats and stop there --- yeah, it's just a thought and not anything that you'd ever consider doing...or attempting. Often it is concern for a bad back, bad knees or aging hips that limit the notion of including this essential exercise in any workout.  However, I challenge you to consider what you do during your everyday activities and how many squats you actually do each day. Today we'll discuss why squats are an essential exercise for everybody, including seniors.

An older woman doing squats

From waking and rising out of bed, we start with the first squat by sitting on the toilet.  We make breakfast and sit to enjoy that first morning beverage, to later return to the toilet…you’ve now done two more squats. You can begin to recognize that having the strength and mobility to squat not only allows you to attend to life’s basic need, but also allows you to continue to live fully, whether we are squatting to pick something up off the floor, doing some gardening or lifting a grandchild. Our quads (that's the big muscle in your upper thigh) are the biggest muscles we have and our legs power us so that we remain mobile. Strengthening the quads and their supporting tendons and ligaments support our joints, which, in turn, help to alleviate joint pain.

 

To do a squat, you need to shift your weight back into your heels, keep your back straight, hinge forward at the hip while you are pushing your butt back and bending your knees. It sounds like a lot, but once you do it a few times, you’ll develop some ‘muscle memory’ and it will become a natural action. Start out with just a slight bend in your knees, even just a couple of inches, and then as you get stronger, work on going lower over time. There are many variations of squats, from a basic squat, side squat, wide legged squat, plie squat (think ballerina!), goblet squats, and more! There’s no reason to be bored by including this exercise in your daily routine. Including squats in your exercise routine will benefit your core muscles as well and assist in preventing falls.

 

So why not start today? Find a number and goal that works for you. Maybe for today, start with three shallow squats. Stick with 3 for a couple of days, and within a few days, make it four and keep going. As the weeks go on, see if you can can go a little lower. If you have arthritis or achy knees, try shallow squats. Just do what you can and it will pay off! Squats will help you to maintain strength in your lower body to keep you upright, prevent falls and allow you to be more independent as you age.


Written by Anita Findlay, Senior Fitness Instructor Course (SFIC) Trainer, along with some additions by Jules, Improved Health.

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