Squats: The King of All Exercises

The squat is one of the most popular exercises performed in gyms around the world. Squatting provides core, hip and leg strength along with endurance and injury prevention benefits. It also provides the health benefits of raising metabolic rate and helping to maintain a healthy body weight. Correct form is key when performing squats, whether you are using a weighted barbell or simply using your own body weight for resistance. The lack of proper form while squatting can lead to all sorts of injuries from herniated discs to torn ligaments.

Let’s break down the form needed to execute a safe and effective squat. To start feet should be just wider than shoulder width apart with the toes slightly angled outward. During the repetition the knees should not cave inward and should stay over the feet with the knees never shifting forward past the toes. The back should remain flat throughout the duration of the repetition. To help to ensure this, pull the shoulders back and keep your chest up. If your back begins to round forward while squatting, that is an indicator that you are either using too much weight or need to adjust how low you are squatting and not sink as low. It is also important to maintain a slow and controlled speed throughout the repetition. It is important to make sure to keep your weight on your heels, and not shifting your weight forward over your toes as this adds extra stress to your knees and can result in injury. If you are new to squats it is wise to practice them using just your body weight. And if you are worried about falling, use a sink or counter to hang on to with your hands and have a chair close behind you to catch you.

You can also check out the advice and tips we found on this YouTube video:

Squats are very functional exercises and are used in our daily routines. Whether or not you notice it, we all squat every day. We squat when we stand up out of bed and get up from chairs and couches. Not to mention that we squat when performing activities such as picking up and moving furniture. Along with strengthening muscles, weight bearing exercises like squats also strengthen tendons, ligaments, and bones. Weight bearing exercises also help to prevent osteoporosis.

In addition, squats burn a high number of calories because of the sheer number of muscles that are engaged during the exercise. The benefit of this is an increase in lean muscle mass, which helps to raise your body’s natural daily metabolic rate. This, combined with proper diet, can help to maintain a healthy weight.

As you can see, when the right form, weight and safety procedures are used while squatting, the health benefits from this exercise greatly outnumber the risks that are associated with squats.

 

Peter Hammersmark

Physical Therapist Technician

North Office

 

Exercise for mental health

Mental Health ConceptWe’ve all heard time and time again what the benefits of exercising are: Lower body weight, decreased blood pressure and cholesterol, decreased risk for heart disease and diabetes, improved energy levels, etc etc etc. But did you also know that it helps to improve brain function and decreases your risk for mental health diseases later in life?

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) 15% of the population, or greater than 700 million people, should expect to be diagnosed with a mental health condition after they reach the age of 60. And, a mental health issue later in life can also negatively affect your outcomes from other physical conditions or diseases you may be suffering from. You do not want to forget to take your medications, miss your doctor appointments, or be unable to exercise due to a mental illness. So the time to start improving your physical and mental health is now.

So what type of exercise is good for mental health?

When choosing to exercise for mental health, the studies are still up in the air regarding implementing mentally challenging games to prevent mental illness such as Lumosity. In a recent article posted on the BBC News website, they found little evidence to support the theory that mentally challenging activities such as reading or solving puzzles will help prevent or delay mental diseases. However, this study did show that even a brisk walk a few times a week could help. So along with helping your overall health, exercising has also been proven to help delay or reduce the likelihood of developing mental illnesses later in life. Our advice would be to go with what has been shown to help (exercising) and then add the mental challenging games as a supplement. But we would also suggest speaking with a healthcare professional, which includes your physical therapist, to get an exercise program tailored specifically to you. While a fast walk a few times a week may benefit one person, it may not be challenging enough for the next person to provide the maximal benefit.

What are other ways to help reduce your risk of mental health diseases?

Vital senior couple in the gymAlong with exercising there are other risk factors that have shown to contribute to developing mental health diseases later in life. In a recent study published in Science Daily found that alongside exercising, the following factors also helped to reduce the chance of developing dementia, one of the most common mental illnesses in the elderly, by 60%:

  1. Cessation of smoking
  2. Keep a low body weight
  3. Consuming a healthy diet
  4. A low alcohol Intake

This study was performed over the course of 35 years using 2,235 men. The number one thing this study found to be the strongest mitigating factor… Exercise! So time to pay attention to what has been proven to work and take a walk, find yourself a personal trainer, or participate in a sport. But as always, we recommend that you see your physician or physical therapist first about participating in a new exercise regimen or sport. Call us today for an evaluation and start to decrease your chances of mental illnesses today!

Michael Phillip, PT

Physical Therapist – South Office