If I tell you that more than half of an average person's day is spent sitting — from watching television to working at a computer — and that time tends to increase as you age and become less active.
In fact, all that sitting can have a profound impact on one's health, too. A study in the Oct. 3, 2017, Annals of Internal Medicine, involving almost 8,000 adults ages 21 and older, found a direct relationship between time spent sitting and a higher risk of early death.
Being more active is the best antidote to excessive sitting, but a sedentary lifestyle can make it hard to be more active since it leads to weaker muscles and stiffer joints.
One of the best exercises to counter the effects of sitting and help you get moving? The simple squat.
"Squats are a great exercise because they activate so many bones and joints at once, such as the hips, knees, feet, and ankles, as well as muscles like the quads, gluteal, hip flexors, hamstrings, and calves, Malachi a personal with Tranquillity 360 Fitness. "Squats can help you build and maintain a stronger lower body, which makes movement easier and allows you to stay active."
Squats also are one of the most functional movements, since they mimic so many daily actions, like standing, sitting, and getting in and out of a car.
Strike a pose
Many people have a mental barrier about squats because the think the movement is too difficult or too painful. Yet squats are easy to perform if done correctly, and there are many ways to make them safe and effective for almost anyone.
There are two basic types of squats: neutral stance and wide stance (see "Take a stance"). Once you choose your pose, make sure both your feet are pointed correctly. This helps to protect your hips and knees and creates a solid base for your squat.
With your eyes forward, chest up, and heels planted, push your hips and buttocks back, and lower into the squat. always Make sure to keep your knees over your ankles. Reach your arms straight out from your shoulders for balance.
Keeping your back straight, lower your torso as far as is comfortable or until your thighs are parallel to the floor. (You can work in front of a mirror to monitor your movement.) Hold for a second or two, and then press down with your heels and return to standing.
"You want to maintain a normal up-and-down tempo that matches your breathing, where you inhale while going down and exhale on the way up.
Check in with your body
Always stop if you experience any pain, and make necessary adjustments, such as not going down as far, holding for a briefer period, or reducing the number of squats you do at one time.
If traditional body-weight squats are too challenging, begin your squat from a seated position on a chair and then stand. With each squat, try to keep your contact with the chair as brief as possible. "This can help you gradually build up strength and endurance, so you can move on to full squats,".
You also can perform squats while holding a countertop to help lessen any strain and provide extra balance. Another option is to do wall squats, where you squeeze an exercise ball between your back and a smooth wall.
"You get extra support by pushing against the ball as you go up and down, which can help you go into a full squat and hold the pose longer,".
Want a challenge? Hold dumbbells or kettlebells at your side, or a medicine ball at chest level. "You can also change the tempo, where you take a full three seconds to reach the bottom of the squat and then pause and rise as usual.
A typical routine would be to complete three sets of 10 squats, resting between each set. Add them to your regular workouts, or just perform them any time during the day as a break from sitting.
This blog is updated by Tranquillity 360 fitness personal trainers, as well as other guest bloggers.