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6 Health Benefits of Squats

If you’re looking for a strengthening exercise that benefits your entire body, the squat delivers on all counts.

Doing squats can not only help you perform athletically, but it also strengthens your body for everyday tasks like walking, carrying heavy items, and climbing stairs. The benefits range from helping to prevent injury to improving your performance during other exercises.

Here are 6 benefits of working squats into your exercise routine

1. Burn calories and may aid weight loss. Because squats work many muscle groups at once, the exercise causes your body to increase anabolic hormone production. These are the hormones that help you lose fat and build muscle.

A small 2014 study specifically compared squats as a free weight exercise to the leg press, an exercise machine with added weight. While both moves work the same large muscle groups, the researchers reported that the body’s response was different: When done at similar intensities, squats engaged more muscles and produced a greater hormonal and physiological response — in particular more muscle activation — than the leg press.

Squats can be an important part of any successful weight loss plan. Regular strength training helps speed up your metabolism and can decrease body fat.

2. Reduce your risk of injury. Besides being an effective exercise, regularly doing squats may also help reduce your risk of knee and ankle injury.

That’s because the move strengthens the tendons, bones, and ligaments around your leg muscles, and it can particularly help take some of the load off your knees and ankles. In fact, squats are used extensively for the therapeutic treatment of ankle instability.

However, injury prevention only applies if you do squats with proper form.

A 2013 review found that shallow, improperly performed squats — without bending the knees fully to a 90-degree angle — may lead to degeneration in the lower back (lumbar spine) and knees over time.

So, it’s important to practice proper squat form to protect against injury and gain these health benefits.

3. Increase bone mineral density. Squatting doesn’t just benefit your muscles — doing squats helps your bones, too.

Squats may also help increase bone mineral density, which can strengthen your skeleton, particularly the bones in the spine and lower body. Stronger bones help the body become more resilient against injury.

A small 2013 study of postmenopausal women with osteoporosis or osteopenia — conditions that cause low bone density —  found that those who did 12 weeks of squat exercises improved skeletal health and bone mineral content. The findings suggest that strength training has a potential in the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis.

4. Improve posture. Good posture is particularly important to counteract all of the sitting we do and also to help prevent injury.

Since squats support a stronger core and strengthened lower body, your posture may improve.

A small 2018 study compared the effect of planks and squats on participants. While both exercises achieved similar core activation, squats were better able to activate the muscles that help you straighten your back.

5. Help you jump higher and run faster. While squats are a great workout themselves, they also can help you perform better in other physical activities.

Because squats focus on strengthening your lower body in particular, they’re increasing your power base. Stronger muscles equal more power, after all.

For example, a small 2011 study found that soccer players who completed squat exercises also showed improved short sprint performance. The results suggest that power produced in squat exercises helped improve athletic speed.

6. Aid in flexibility and mobility. As we age, our muscles, tendons, and ligaments naturally lose elasticity. Squats offer a simple way to slow this process and keep you flexible and limber for longer.

Adding squats to your workout routine can benefit your everyday life in several ways:

  • Common activities like bending to pick things up becomes easier.
  • Daily tasks like climbing stairs are less challenging.
  • Squats strengthen the muscles we use regularly to move from sitting to standing.