Squats Will Help Keep You Independent


I’m a missionary spreading the gospel of strength exercise
for older adults.

This article is a part of that gospel. You may think that only
body builders do squats, but they are the first exercise
anyone of any age should do as he or she begins an
exercise program. When you do a squat, you are
strengthening the thigh muscles (quadriceps) that you use
to get up out of a chair–I call them the muscles of
independence. Just doing a couple of sets of 8 repetitions
daily will increase your leg strength. Getting up off the couch
will be easier and you’ll be less likely to fall.

Here are your in-depth instructions for doing squats.
Stand with your feet hip width apart. If you are afraid of
falling, stand behind a heavy chair and hold on to the back
the chair. If there is a chance you may tip the chair over,
place some heavy weights on the seat. If you don’t need to
hold on, make sure you pull your stomach muscles in to
keep your back straight so it is not arched. If you don’t need
to hold on, hold your hands in a prayer position in front of

In the strength classes I teach I say, “Stick your bottom out
behind. Pretend you are Donald Duck and waggle your tail.”
Then slowly lower your bottom as if you are going to sit.
Keep most of your weight back on your heels. Your upper
body should remain upright–do not bend at the waist. As
you lower your body, extend your hands out in front of you
until your arms are parallel with the floor. This will help keep
you from bending over.

Keep your knees over your toes. You can injure your knees if
you don’t. When you look down as you’re doing a squat, you
should always be able to see your toes. If you cannot, you’re
not doing the squat properly. If your knees hurt, try making
your bottom stick out further. This will keep your knees over
your feet. If they still hurt, don’t go down so far. If that doesn’t
work, do not do this exercise. If you can’t get the hang of it,
actually sit down slowly in a straight chair and watch to see
how you do it.

Lower your bottom very slowly down as far as you are
comfortable. Inhale as you go down Do not go beyond the
point at which your thighs are parallel with the floor. If your
leg muscles are very weak or if your knees begin to
complain, lower your body only a few inches. Check to be
sure your bottom is protruding out behind. The further you
stick out your bottom, the less your knees are likely to hurt.
You should take approximately four seconds for the
lowering phase.

Stand back up while you concentrate on tightening your
thigh muscles and making them do the work. Push up with
your thighs. Do not stand back up quickly; slower is better.
Exhale as you stand back up. Take about two seconds to lift
your body back up to its original position.

This is not a glamorous exercise. I tell class members that
they leave “lady-like” at the door. We are athletes while we
are working out.

Do eight repetitions of this exercise very slowly. It should
take about six seconds for each repetition and your legs
should feel tired when you finish. If they do not, you have
probably not been tightening the thigh muscles as you
stand back up; you’ve been letting your knees do much of
the work. As you begin to straighten your legs, tighten the
thighs and push. I find it often takes new exercisers several
weeks to really get the hang of this.

If your thighs are burning when you finish the set, you’re
getting the maximum benefit from the exercise. You may
want to shake out your legs if they feel very tired.
You will be amazed how doing this simple exercise
regularly will make it easier to climb stairs, arise from a
chair and get in and out of the car.
It will also improve your balance because your legs will
become strong enough to hold and support you securely as
you stand.

Tip: Make sure you do not bend at the waist so you are
looking at the floor. If you are not sure you are doing this
exercise correctly, get someone to watch you or exercise in
front of a mirror.

See your doctor before beginning an exercise program. If
any exercise causes pain, stop immediately. Modify the
exercise so it does not cause pain or find another exercise
to work the same body part. Any exercise program carries
risks of injury. Phyllis Rogers and/or Senior Fitness, Inc. are
not responsible for any injuries incurred during or after
doing the exercises described in this article.

Phyllis Rogers is certified as a Certified Fitness Trainer, Specialist in Fitness for Older Adults and Longevity Wellness Specialist. She is available for speeches and workshops. Her e-mail address is fitness9@mindspring.com or learn more at [http://www.StrongOver40.com]

Her book “Over 40 & Gettin’ Stronger contains instructions for a complete workout, including squats. She has just released an audio CD which guides you through the workout. To obtain the book/CD combination, send a check for $25.95 plus $4 for shipping to Fitness Press, P O Box 4912, Marietta, GA 30061. Or visit [http://www.StrongOver40.com]

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Author: Piyawut Sutthiruk

Losing weight will keep you healthy and have a long life. Cheer Up!

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