People overseas squat more than Americans. But could daily squatting be better for our bodies? Experts weigh in.

On vacation, my friend plopped into a deep squat while I sat on a bench. She joked she was trying the “Slav squat” – a meme about Slavic folks in tracksuits chilling in a deep squat. Searches for this also reference the “Asian squat“, since deep squatting is common in Asia.

In the US, constant squatting is rare. When I asked friends, only half could squat without holding on to something. We squat as kids and teens, but as adults, we stop unless it’s exercise.

“Aging shows in the inability to squat or sit on the floor then get up independently,” said physical therapist Bahram Jam.

Should we start squatting for long periods daily? Here’s the lowdown on optimal squatting:

What does squatting do for your body?

Squatting is like a full-body workout! When you squat down with your heels on the ground, you stretch your ankles, knees, hips and back through their complete range of motion.

Balancing in a deep squat takes core strength too, as you have to align your center of gravity and balance. As one physical therapist put it, it’s like folding a slinky or crumpling an aluminum can – your body has to fold up and balance.

This squat “balance game” targets and stretches multiple muscle groups at once – your back, hips, knees and ankles all get a workout. Experts say moving your joints through their full range of motion this way keeps your cartilage healthy.

Some folks find squatting down with heels flat tough or impossible though. That’s often because of stiff ankles that don’t bend enough. If your ankles won’t bend forward at least 35 degrees, squatting heel-down gets tricky. Holding onto something for support can help in that case.

Kids are great at squatting because their body proportions and super flexible ankles allow for it. But if they don’t keep squatting as they grow, they lose that ankle flexibility over time. Encouraging kids to squat often helps maintain ideal ankle mobility for squatting.

The takeaway is the more you squat throughout life, the better you’ll be able to do it. Squats are beneficial at any age for preserving joint health and function. So fold yourself up and get squatting!

Is squatting good for you?

Sure, squatting takes your joints through their natural range of motion, which keeps them nimble. But parking it in a deep squat for ages can strain your body.

I mean, turning your neck all the way left is healthy. But holding it there for half an hour? No bueno. Same goes for squatting – it’s best in moderation.

Plus, chilling in a squat all day isn’t super practical for work or regular life. You can’t drive or sit at a desk folded up like a pretzel.

Now some folks squat for hours daily with no problem. But studies show spending over an hour a day in a deep squat as a young adult might increase your risk of knee arthritis later on.

Occasional, short squatting sessions are safer bet. Squat a little here and there to keep your joints happy without overdoing it. Listen to your body and change positions as needed.

The takeaway? Squat in moderation to reap the benefits without strain. Fold yourself up now and then, but don’t hang out down there too long. Find that sweet spot between motion and duration.

Should we be squatting more?

Should we squat more often? The short answer is: some squatting is good, but you don’t have to go overboard.

Having the ability to squat shows you’ve got a solid range of motion. Never know when you’ll need to bust out a squat – like using a low toilet or picking up a kiddo.

But just because squatting is healthy doesn’t mean you should squat for hours a day. I mean, 15-20 minutes while drinking boba with friends? Great for your balance and joints. But parking it in a deep squat all day while working? Probably not practical.

The key is to mix it up. Stand, walk, squat, sit – variety keeps your body nimble. Trying squatting for a few seconds daily just to maintain the skill. Lost your squatting chops? Physical therapy can help build it back up.

Now, if deep squatting hurts, check with a doc first. And not everyone needs to squat deep. For some folks, standing from a chair works similar muscles.

Bottom line: occasional squatting keeps your joints happy and flexible. But you don’t need to overdo it. Just avoid sitting too long – stand up and move around! A few “exercise snacks” a day is all it takes.

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