By Virginia Eaton —
I want to have a frank conversation about why you should do squats as part of your weekly exercise routine. Okay, here goes: if you want to be able to sit on the toilet when you are old, and then get up from that toilet without help, you need to train in your middle age for your old age.
Getting into and out of a chair or a car requires the muscles of your legs, butt, hips and torso to fire in a coordinated way so you can control your body in the up and down of sitting. Gym squats – heavy weights across the shoulders, lots of grunting and dropping of bars – make squats seem like a dramatic affair.
However, squats can be easily done using a chair for support or the kitchen counter. Until you are ready, no weights are necessary. If you are concerned about your knees, often squats of one kind or another may be what those knees need to stabilize them.
Here is how to do a gentle, safe squat (check with your doctor if you have any concerns about doing exercise of any kind): stand near a chair or counter for easy support and place your knees and feet about hips width apart. Start by bending your ankles and knees, leave your chest and shoulders upright and do not look at your feet — I promise you they aren’t going anywhere!
Bend knees as much as feels comfortable and then squeeze your butt and push the floor away with your feet as you come to a fully upright position. The amount that you use your hands depends upon your balance and strength; keep in mind the goal is to do a small squat with no support from your hands but work up to it slowly.
There are many different types of squats and ways to accommodate aches, pains and limitations. If you are not sure how to do a squat or what type of squat would work best for you, check with your workout facility or physical therapist for help.
As we age, our bodies struggle to keep the balance and strength of our younger years. The decline as we age is partially due an increase in our sedentary habit — it’s almost as if we believe we deserve to sit still and melt into our chairs. I challenge you to think about this in another way—you deserve to have a healthy strong body until your last day and you deserve the time it takes to do some squats so you can have privacy when using the bathroom!
Virginia Eaton is the owner of Class: The Body Pastiche