The Benefits of Squatting for Seniors: Improved Strength, Range of Motion, and Bone Health
People often ask me, “what is the absolute best exercise you can do to improve your strength and overall health?”. In my practice, I must use good judgment when responding to this question when asked by new patients. To the general public, and those that have been cleared to participate in an exercise program, I have to respond with one of my favorite exercises and most beneficial for so many lower extremity conditions, the squat exercise.
Why the Squat Exercise is Essential for Lower Extremity Health
What is the ‘squat’ exercise? Think of yourself properly bending down to pick up an object from the floor. You need to bend at your waist, hips, knee, and ankles to pick up that item. How you do that action varies from person to person, but all humans need to flex at these joints to properly complete this action. This movement is a common part of our [daily routine] and is necessary for performing [daily tasks] such as picking up groceries or bending down to tie our shoes.
This ‘squat’ position is a [compound movement] that challenges the strength and range of motion at your lumbar spine, hips, knees, and ankles, making it one of the most [effective exercises]. It is a [body weight] exercise, when you are participating in a ‘squat’ exercise, you are attempting to challenge these regions, and improve strength and range of motion while mitigating your risk of injury. It is important to maintain proper form while squatting to ensure that you are getting the most benefit from the exercise and to avoid injury. But what else are the benefits of one of my favorite exercises? Improving bone health. Studies show that participating in gravity dependent strength training exercises improves not only strength, but also bone integrity. Hence, you will have stronger bones with the squat exercise. This makes it a great option for those who may not have access to [heavy resistance training] equipment.
I wouldn’t challenge my patients with this exercise out of the gate when starting an exercise program, but I almost always transition to it once I feel they are ready. Once you participate in one of our exercise programs, you will be safely transitioned to participate in this exercise. Here is a demonstration of this exercise, and please do not participate in this activity unless you know you are ready for this challenge:
The Squat: A Versatile Exercise for Improving Core, Hip, and Knee Strength
This exercise challenges your lower extremity strength and forces your body to use the main hip extensors and one of the primary muscles to alleviate low back and knee pain, the gluteus maximus, also known as the butt (booty) muscle. As a secondary gain, this exercise will help with knee health which requires sufficient pelvic and hip strength.
Would you like to participate in an exercise to improve your core strength, hip strength, knee and ankle strength along with making your bones stronger and improving your life? Sign up for any of our exercise programs and you will be properly instructed and safely transitioned to do so.
Dr. Marty Sanchez is a licensed Physical Therapist and owner of Desire Wellness where he, and his wife, Dr. Emily Sanchez have teamed up with other primary care providers to bring multiple resources for healing, improved vitality and mobility. Dr. Marty received his Doctor of Physical Therapy from Azusa Pacific University in 2005. Follow Dr. Marty Sanchez on Facebook and LinkedIn